Search AIMP site
Job Offerings
Industry News
Latin Corner

Copyright Corner

View All Copyright Corner Entries

Pan European Online Licensing

April 27, 2011

This overview is not intended to be comprehensive or a substitute for fee-based information and/or legal advice.

Pan European Online Licensing refers to the mechanism by which one or more societies or entities, selected by a publisher and/or a songwriter, are allowed to grant European-wide licenses (rather than through separate licenses per country), and collect royalties for compositions that are digitally distributed (online or via mobile phones).

To begin, we will contrast the system in place for US writers and publishers with the system that exists in Europe. In the US, performance income is collected by the PROs (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) and distributed to rights holders, while mechanical income (from the sale of music) is licensed and collected from music distributors either by agreement with the Harry Fox Agency (or other selected agents) or licensed and collected directly by music publishers themselves. In Europe, each country (or collection of countries) maintains a society whose purpose is to collect both mechanical and performance income and to then distribute same to songwriters, composers and music publishers.

This scheme worked adequately for music distributed country by country, but did not work well for music digitally distributed across Europe on one platform (e.g. iTunes®). Companies engaged in distributing music digitally across Europe [e.g. iTunes® (online - downloads), Nokia (Phone - downloads), and Rhapsody (streaming)] were finding it difficult to obtain licenses country by country. Broadcaster RTL and Music Choice formally complained to the European Commission. This problem was partially addressed by recommending that rights owners be permitted to select one or more societies or entities to issue one license for European-wide use.

Unfortunately, this system only works well for the reproduction right in Anglo-American repertoire (because mechanical rights are controlled per contract by publishers rather than societies). It has not yet worked well for performance rights or for compositions by songwriters outside Anglo-American countries.

The four major publishers; Sony/ATV, EMI, Universal and Warner/Chappell (see list below), have already picked their designated societies, leaving independent music publishers with a choice to designate a collection society, find themselves with complicated royalty tracking, or risk not collecting these royalties at all.

EMI CELAS (a joint venture between PRS and GEMA)
PEERMUSIC PRS (for Anglo-American repertoire)/SGAE (for Latin repertoire)
WARNER/CHAPPELL Several Selected Societies


Following is a simple example to help your understanding; Let's say you, an Indie publisher, publish the song, "Believe." The song is written by your writer and a writer signed to Sony/ATV Music. You administer for your 50% publisher's share while Sony/ATV controls and administers for its 50% share. Now, Nokia requests a license for "Believe" to sell as a digital download offered on their mobile phones in Europe. Sony/ATV would license its share through GEMA (the German mechanical rights organization), their designated Pan European Online Licensor, but what about your share? You would need to designate a society to handle your similar license or find that it will be extremely complicated to find your share of royalties.

Although this scheme only applies to digital distribution, some experts believe the system will significantly impact your other agreements with foreign collection societies in other territories and with your sub-publishers. This is a very simple example - so beware that there are many other details we did not discuss that would require further investigation on your part.




  1. Music Confidential - A White Paper authored by Susan Butler - Attorney and Executive Editor of Music Confidential. The White Paper is a result of several years of research and interviews with 50+ executives and lawyers, who work every week on music publishing licensing deals in Europe, plus lawyers for the European government. This paper describes the flow of rights in the UK and Continental Europe, the history of the Pan European proposals, how this system may impact subpublishing contracts, what publishers must be aware of before selecting a society for licensing, how digital services can clear rights, what societies are doing and how this system may significantly impact the business of music. Discounts apply for AIMP members based on number of employees. For detail contact info@aimp.org, put White Paper in the Subject header.
  2. Collective Licensing of Online Music In Europe - Article by International law firm, Bird and Bird
  3. MPA - Article by Music Publishers Association




  1. Sukin Law Group [Attorneys Michael Sukin (USA) and Crispin Evans (London)] Sukin Law Group has studied the services and systems being made available by the various societies in depth and their offering here is based on their analysis of what is most effective for independent publishers. Offers AIMP members a discount on a pre-negotiated agreement with their designated society.
  2. AMRA [Sindee Levin (Ms), AMRA - President]
    A US based society . They charge 10% of what is collected. Contact amracalif@aol.com




  1. SABAM - BELGIUM - contacts:
      Herman Van Laar (ph: 02 286 15 50 ), herman.vanlaar@sabam.be
      Wim Germonpré (ph: 0477 542 665 ), wim.germonpre@sabam.be
  2. SACEM - FRANCE - contact: Catherine Kerr, catherine.kerr.vignale@sacem.fr
  5. SGAE - SPAIN - contact: Pablo Hernandez, phernandez@sgae.es
  6. STIM - SWEDEN - contact: Scott Farrant, scott.farrant@stim.se
  7. PRS FOR MUSIC - U.K. - contact: Marla Shapiro, Marla.Shapiro@prsformusic.com


If you are a service or information provider and would like to be included on this page please contact info@aimp.org


Login now to register for events and access your members area.
AIMP Twitter follow page AIMP Linked In page AIMP Facebook page
Calendar of Events
Members Blog Posts
What Metadata Is Critical (by Aaron Davis, CEO of Exploration)
by L. Redwing
View Full Post

Sista Jean &CB'S 2nd CD "Requiem For A Heavyweight(Tribute To Odetta)
by J. McClain(MaShay)
View Full Post

See all Posts
Copyright Alliance Update On The CODE Act House Judiciary Committee members Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Tom Marino (R-PA) have been working to draft legislation, the Copyrigh …

View More

The Copyright Office Orphan Works & Mass Digitization report On June 4th, the Copyright Office released a report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization, available here.  The report r …

View More