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Cut-throat lobbying ahead of MEPs' online music vote

  • Lobbying is intense ahead of the parliament vote on copyright of online music (Photo: EUobserver)

A petition signed by more than 350 songwriters and composers – including Annie Lennox and Robbie Williams – urging European lawmakers to reject a report on cross-border management of online music copyright, has been withdrawn after signatories denied having signed such a petition.

The International Federation of Music Publishers (ICMP/CIEM) sent a petition – seen by EUobserver – to MEPs on Thursday (8 March) ahead of a vote on the report on Tuesday (13 March).

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The petition is one of many lobbying efforts lately. The amount of emails and phonecalls MEPs have received on the issue of collective cross-border management of online music have intensified over the last few weeks as interest in the report has increased in a last chance bid to influence the wording of the paper or the outcome of the vote.

"There has really been a lot of attention from all sides," a parliament official said. The EU digital music sector is set to become a €3.9 billion a year industry by 2011 and the parliament vote could have an effect on where the money goes.

The report – written by socialist Hungarian MEP Katalin Levai - has been delayed since November 2006 partly due to the heavy interest in the topic.

It fears a 2005 European Commission recommendation could lead to a "big-bang" style introduction of competition into the collective management of authors' rights and therefore damage cultural diversity in Europe, but at the same time it recognises a need for more - although restricted - competition in the area.

The ICMP petition said the commisssion recommendation on collective cross-border management of copyright and related rights – which could see a change in the way music copyright is managed across Europe - "supports and enhances our creative efforts which can only be good for our shared and diverse culture in our great Continent."

"The Commission recommendation on music on-line will result in our music reaching more consumers and we are committed to making this happen," the petition said and called for MEPs to "uphold the recommendation without change."

French singer and composer Dominique Pankratoff who himself is among the 350 on the list said "authors had been abused."

"I have not given any formal signature on the petition launched by ICMP," he said in an email on Friday (9 March).

English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, whose name is also on the list, un-knowingly signed the petition, according to his manager.

The ICMP/CIEM has denied the existence of the petition to EUobserver, but in an email – also seen by EUobserver – to the European Composers and Songwriters Alliance on Friday (9 March), the federation apologises for the petition.

The "ICMP has withdrawn the proposal of circulating a petition and has asked anyone who has received a draft of it by mistake to delete it," the email said, adding they "apologise for any upset it may have caused."

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