The ambitious plan by European collecting societies PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA to create a joint venture may be about to run into regulatory buffers with the European Commission. The EC has “opened an in-depth investigation” into the plans (or, if you prefer the societies’ wording, has “taken the procedural step of continuing its investigation”). Why? According to the Commission, its preliminary investigation indicated that the plans “could result in higher prices and worsened commercial conditions for digital service providers… This could lead, ultimately, to higher prices and less choice for European consumers of digital music”. A final decision is expected in 90 days’ time, as the Commission investigates several competition concerns outlined in its announcement. For their part, the societies argue that the JV will make it easier for digital services to clear rights, as well as speeding up payments to rightsholders. Naturally, they’re promising full cooperation with the investigation.

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