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Italian competition regulator to investigate Meta’s exclusion of SIAE repertoire amid licensing talks

By | Published on Tuesday 11 April 2023


Italy’s competition regulator last week said it will investigate whether Meta has abused its dominant position in the digital market by removing songs represented by Italian collecting society SIAE from its platforms as licensing talks continue to go through the motions.

Meta’s previous licensing deal with SIAE – covering songs uploaded to Facebook and Instagram – expired at the start of the year, and negotiations were ongoing to agree terms on a new licence. It’s no secret that the music community feels that social media and user-generated content services should be paying more into the music industry given the key role they believe music plays on those platforms.

That, presumably, was making the latest licensing talks particularly tricky. Nevertheless, SIAE said it was left “bewildered” when – seemingly out of the blue – Meta decided to exclude the society’s repertoire from its platforms.

“This decision is striking”, SIAE said in a statement at the time, “considering the ongoing negotiation, and the full availability of SIAE to sign a licence for the proper use of protected content under transparent conditions”.

According to Reuters, the Italian competition regulator will now consider whether Meta “unduly interrupted the negotiations” for a new licence via its decision to exclude SIAE’s music while those negotiations were ongoing, exploiting its market dominance to put unfair pressure on the rights organisation.

A spokesperson for the social media giant told reporters: “We will fully cooperate with the inquiry from the Italian competition authority. Protecting the copyrights of songwriters and artists is an important priority for us”.