Business News Digital Labels & Publishers

Italy’s SIAE hits out at Meta after repertoire exclusion

By | Published on Friday 17 March 2023


Italian song rights collecting society SIAE has hit out at Meta after the social media giant started excluding its repertoire from the Facebook and Instagram platforms amid ongoing licensing negotiations.

Meta, of course, needs licences from the music industry covering all the songs and recordings that are included in videos uploaded by its users to its platforms.

Because, while the good old copyright safe harbour does provide some protections to platforms whose users upload music without licence, that is not the case when social media apps facilitate the insertion of the music, as has become more common.

And, of course, in Europe the safe harbour was revised in the 2019 Copyright Directive, specifically increasing the obligations of user-upload platforms.

So, Meta needs a SIAE licence if its users are making use of songs represented by the society. However, it seems, Meta’s most recent licence expired at the start of the year and negotiations to renew it have proven tricky. Leading to Meta’s decision to just exclude SIAE’s repertoire.

Criticising that move, SIEA said in a statement yesterday that: “Meta’s unilateral decision to exclude SIAE’s repertoire from its library has left Italian authors and publishers bewildered”.

Commenting on recent licensing negotiations with the social media firm, the statement went on: “SIAE is being asked to accept Meta’s unilateral proposal, regardless of any transparent and shared evaluation of the actual value of the repertoire. This position, along with Meta’s refusal to share relevant information for a fair agreement, is evidently in contrast with the principles established by the Copyright Directive for which authors and publishers across Europe have strongly advocated”.

“This decision is striking, considering the ongoing negotiation, and the full availability of SIAE to sign a licence for the proper use of protected content under transparent conditions”, it continued. “Such openness is demonstrated by the fact that SIAE has continued to seek an agreement with Meta in good faith, despite the platform being without a licence since 1 Jan 2023”.

Concluding, the society’s statement said: “SIAE will not accept impositions from an entity that exploits its position of strength to obtain savings at the expense of the Italian creative industry”.

This morning the Independent Music Publishers International Forum also issued a statement on the situation, saying: “IMPF condemns in the strongest possible terms Meta’s decision to exclude the Italian society of authors and publishers’ repertoire from its platforms. The move is nothing short of a bullying tactic used to force SIAE to accept a one-sided proposal that disregards any reasonable, shared evaluation of the value of music”.

“Furthermore”, it went on, “Meta’s refusal to share relevant information to establish a fair agreement is in direct contrast with the principles established by the Copyright Directive, which has been strongly advocated for by authors and publishers across Europe”.

“Meta has now been without a licence for SIAE repertoire since 1 Jan 2023, despite SIAE having remained open to signing an agreement in good faith”, it concluded.

“Instead, Meta has decided to use its position as a corporate mega power to hold artists at gunpoint and undervalue their hard work and creativity. This coercive, dishonest behaviour is not acceptable and sends a very worrying signal to the rest of the music business and the wider creative industries. Fair and honest negotiation is the only way forward. Meta needs to retract”.