EU Seeks Online Music License

The European Union called on Europe's music industry Wednesday to create EU-wide copyright licenses for online music, saying this would boost demand for legal downloads.

"These licenses will make it easier for new European-based online services to take off," EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said. Music copyrights are currently collected by national agencies, but the emergence of online music services such as Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes means there is growing demand for a license that covers all 25 EU nations.

The European Commission said the absence of bloc-wide copyright licenses has been one factor that has made it difficult for new Internet-based music services to develop their full potential. Apple has to obtain separate licenses for each song in every EU country to offer it to all Europeans, which could cost it up to 475,000 euros ($569,000) per song, the commission said. In practice, this means that users in some countries have a much smaller catalogue to choose from.

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