The move is part of an investigation by the Italian Competition Authority or AGCM into Meta’s conduct in the market.
Earlier in April, AGCM said it opened a probe into Meta to review its handling of licensing negotiations with the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE), the primary collecting society for tens of thousands of songwriters in Italy.
AGCM believes that Meta may have unfairly disrupted negotiations for licensing the use of musical rights on its platforms, “abusing SIAE’s economic dependence.”
This investigation follows Meta’s failure to renew a licensing deal with SIAE earlier this year, which saw all songs under SIAE’s repertoire pulled from Meta’s platforms.
The Italian antitrust watchdog has now ordered Meta to resume negotiations with SIAE to allow musical works protected by SIAE to be used on Facebook and Instagram again.
“Meta’s conduct appears abusive and suitable to cause serious and irreparable detriment to competitive dynamics in the markets of copyright licensing.”
Italian Competition Authority
“Meta’s conduct appears abusive and suitable to cause serious and irreparable detriment to competitive dynamics in the markets of copyright licensing, having an impact on all the parties belonging to the supply chain (authors, rightholders contributing to the creation of musical works protected by copyright law, collecting societies that protect those rights, final users),” AGCM said.
The “abusive” conduct by Meta refers to its alleged “take it or leave it” economic offer presented to SIAE that the society said lacked “any transparent and shared evaluation of the actual value of the repertoire”.
SIAE had earlier said that Meta threatened to remove tracks under SIAE’s repertoire from Meta-owned platforms if its offer was not accepted, and as the society rejected the offer, Meta “suddenly and unilaterally” started to remove its content.
AGCM now wants Meta to immediately resume talks with the society, “while holding a standard inspired by the principles of good faith and fairness.”
It also asked Meta to provide all the information needed to allow SIAE “to restore the balance” in the commercial relationship with Meta.
Meta was also ordered to restore the availability of musical works on Facebook and Instagram. The tech giant is also required to appoint a third party, independent trustee that will identify the information to be provided to SIAE.
A spokesperson for Meta told Reuters on Saturday (April 22) that the company disagreed with the AGCM’s precautionary measures, although it welcomed the chance to resume talks with the society. Meta reportedly plans to send SIAE another request to extend its license agreement.
“We believe it is important to collaborate with the music industry,” the spokesperson was quoted by Reuters as saying.
In response to the antitrust watchdog’s precautionary measures against Meta, SIAE President Salvatore Nastasi said he was “very satisfied” with the decision.
“As soon as possible we want to return to the negotiating table on an equal footing, having from the giant Meta all the information necessary to allow us to restore balance in the entire commercial relationship.”
Salvatore Nastasi, Italian Society of Authors and Publishers
“As soon as possible we want to return to the negotiating table on an equal footing, having from the giant Meta all the information necessary to allow us to restore balance in the entire commercial relationship,” according to a translated text of Salvatore’s statement in Italian on Friday (April 21).
Nastasi said SIAE expects the immediate restoration of the contents protected by SIAE on Meta’s platforms.
Meta’s negotiations with SIAE follow the social media giant’s launch of a new revenue-sharing deal with music rightsholders for user-generated video content.
Music Business Worldwide