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Deezer win French court battle with Universal

By | Published on Tuesday 6 September 2011


French streaming music service Deezer has won a court battle against Universal Music over the major’s efforts to renegotiate its licensing terms with the digital company.

Universal Music France wanted the courts to force Deezer to stop making its music available for streaming after the digital firm and record company failed to agree new licensing terms earlier this year. However, Deezer successfully argued that the new terms Universal was trying to force on them, mainly reducing the amount of music non-paying subscribers could access, were contrary to commitments made by the wider record industry, including Universal, in January as part of a government-supported agreement between the music and digital industries, designed to foster the development of legal digital music services in France.

Deezer reluctantly cut the amount of free listening any one user could get via their service to five hours a month earlier this summer at the insistence of the record companies who licence the digital platform. However Universal, who began renegotiating their deal with Deezer, originally struck in 2008, earlier this year, wanted even more limitations applied to the freemium version of the service.

Welcoming the ruling, Deezer chief Axel Dauchez told AFP: “I’m particularly happy that the judge found that the new conditions imposed by Universal did not conform to the charter of thirteen commitments agreed by music companies and online music providers in January”. Universal have said they will appeal the ruling.

Deezer, of course, is launching in the UK this month, providing a new competitor to both Spotify and We7. According to The Independent, the French firm is close to inking a deal with Orange to bundle the streaming music service in with internet packages, in much the same way Spotify has done a deal with Virgin Media.