The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) is a non - profit non - governmental organisation which represents , in over a hundred countries, collecting societies managi ng copyright relating to , inter alia, musical works .

The collecting societies acquire the management of those rights either by direct transfer from the authors or by transmission from another collecting society managing the same categories of rights in an other country . They grant exploitation licences to commercial users, such as broadcasting undertakings or organisers of live shows . The prices of those licences are the source of the royalties that the authors receive, after the management expenses of thos e collecting societies have been deducted .

In 1936, CISAC drew up a model contract for reciprocal representation agreements between its members. That contract serves as a non - binding model for reciprocal representation agreements concluded between its memb ers for the purposes of conferring licences covering public performance rights of musical works . Each collecting societ y agree s , reciprocally, to confer the rights over its repertoire to all of the other collecting societies for the purposes of their explo itation in the respective territories of those collecting societies . Because of the network created by all of those reciprocal representation agreements, each collecting society can propose a worldwide portfolio of musical works to commercial users, but on ly for use in its own territory.

In 2000, RTL lodged a complaint with the Commission against a member of CISAC concerning its refusal to grant it a Community - wide licence for its music broadcasting activities . In 2003, Music Choice Europe, which provides r adio and television broadcasting services on the internet, lodged a second complaint against CISAC concerning its model contract .

By its decision of 16 July 2008 1 , the Commission prohibited 24 European collecting societies 2 from restricting competition , in particular by limiting their ability to offer their services to authors and commercial users outside their domestic territory . The Commission decision, which concerns solely the exploitation of copyright via the internet, satellite and cable retransmissio n, does not call into question the very existence of reciprocal representation agreements. It does, however, prohibit:

- membership clauses : clauses in the model contract which restrict authors’ ability to affiliate freely to the collecting society of thei r choice ;

- exclusivity clauses : clauses in the model contract which have the effect of providing all collecting societ ies , in the territory in which they are established, with absolute territorial protection vis - à - vis other collecting societies as regards the grant of licences to commercial users ;

- a concerted practice which was found to exist between the collecting societies and by which each collecting society limi ts , in the reciprocal representation agreements, the right to grant licences relating to i ts repertoire in the territory of another collecting society party to the agreement.

The Commission did not impose fines on the collecting societies but did require that they remove the clauses in question from the model contract and bring an end to the co ncerted practice.

Most of the collecting societies concerned and CISAC brought an action before the General Court of the European Union against the Commission’s decision.

By today’s judgments, the General Court annuls, for CISAC and for 20 of the collectin g societies concerned, the Commission’s decision in respect of the finding of the concerted practice . In that respect, the General Court considers that the Commission has not provided sufficient evidence. The Commission, first, did not have documents provi ng the existence of concertation between the collecting societies as regards the territorial scope of the mandates which they grant each other and, secondly, did not render implausible the applicants’ explanation that the parallel conduct of the collecting societies at issue was not the result of concertation, but rather of the need to fight effectively against the unauthorised use of musical works.

The General Court rejected the applications in so far as they sought the annulment of the Commission decisio n in respect of the membership and exclusivity clauses .

As regards the Stim case, the General Court rejected all of the arguments put forward by that collecting society, which had not raised in sufficient time the issue of the lack of proof of the concert ed practice .

Case No. Collecting society Nationality of the collecting society Outcome
T-392/08 AEPI Greece Partial annulment of the Commission decision ( concerted practice )
T-398/08 ZAIKS Poland Partial annulment of the Commission decision ( concerted practice )
T-401/08 TEOSTO Finland Partial annulment of the Commission decision ( concerted practice )
T-410/08 GEMA Germany Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-411/08 ARTISJUS Hungary Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-413/08 SOZA Slovakia Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-414/08 AKKA/LAA Latvia Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-415/08 IMRO Ireland Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-416/08 EAÜ Esthonia Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-417/08 SPA Portugal Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-418/08 OSA Czech Republic Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-419/08 LATGA-A Lithuania Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-420/08 SAZAS Slovenia Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-421/08 PRS United Kingdom Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-422/08 SACEM France Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-425/08 KODA Denmark Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-428/08 STEF Iceland Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-432/08 AKM Austria Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-433/08 SIAE Italy Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-434/08 TONO Norway Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
T-451/08 STIM Sweden Action dismissed
T-442/08 CISAC   Partial annulment of the Commission decision (concerted practice)
Collecting societies which are not (or are no longer) applicants
T-456/08 SGAE Spain ( Action inadmissible because it was not lodged in time ) 3
  SABAM Belgium No action
  BUMA Netherlands No action

NOTE: An appeal, limited to points of law only, may be brought before the Cou rt of Justice against the decision of the General Court within two months of notification of the decision

NOTE: An action for annulment seeks the annulment of acts of the institutions of the European Union that are contrary to European Union law. The Mem ber States, the European institutions and individuals may, under certain conditions, bring an action for annulment before the Court of Justice or the General Court. If the action is well founded, the act is annulled. The institution concerned must fill any legal vacuum created by the annulment of the act.

Unofficial document for media use, not binding on the General Court.
The full text of the judgment is published on the CURIA website on the day of delivery
Press contact: Christopher Fretwell (+352) 4303 3355
Pictures of the delivery of the Opinion are available from " Europe by Satellite " (+32) 2 2964106 (+32) 2 2964106

1 Commission Decision relating to a proceeding under Article 81 of the EC Treaty and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement ( Case COMP/C2/38.698 – CISAC ).
2 See the table below.
3 Order of the General Court in Case T - 456/08 SGAE v Commission .

Source: curia.