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Competition Authority fines SIAE for “abuse of dominant position”

The Italian Competition Authority has levied a symbolic fine of €1,000 on performance rights organisation (PRO) SIAE for the abuse of its dominant market position to suppress competition in Italy’s rights sector.

SIAE (the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers, or Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori) has been given 60 days to “put an end to its [alleged] distortions of competition”, which relate to a dispute with two newer copyright collection societies, Soundreef and Innovaetica.

SIAE had formerly exercised a (legal) monopoly on Italian royalties collections, although a 2017 provision of Italy’s budget law finally paved the way for the liberalisation of the market and allowed for competition, to comply with EU law.

Some 8,000 rightsholders have left SIAE in recent years, mostly for Soundreef. SIAE was alleged to have spent 400,000 to investigate Soundreef – including by hiring Black Cube, a private intelligence agency founded by ex-Mossad agents – following the high-profile defection of Fabio Rovazzi and Fedez in January.

According to AGCM, SIAE has embarked on a “complex exclusionary strategy” designed to uphold its monopoly

In Fedez’s case, his tour promoter, Show Bees, had paid the artist’s royalties to SIAE – as it was legally obliged to do – but was later ordered to also pay Soundreef too (calling to mind the headache faced by other promoters whose acts are collecting their performance royalties directly).

According to the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM), SIAE has since 2012 embarked on a “complex exclusionary strategy” designed to uphold its monopoly, “impairing the right of authors to choose copyright management services provided by [SIAE’s] competitors”.

As a result, the authority today ordered SIAE to “immediately end the proven distortion of competition and to refrain from behaving [as such] in the future”, as well as imposing the €1,000 fine as a “symbolic pecuniary sanction”.

SIAE’s president, lyricist Mogol (pictured), says the society will “read and evaluate the text [of AGCM’s decision] very carefully”. “SIAE is sure to be able to demonstrate that no violation for abuse took place, and that its work was always respectful of the law on copyright and in general, including in the field of competition,” he comments.

 


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SIAE in legal blitz against touts, Viagogo

While the new government of Italy has yet to implement its 2017 budget law – and with it the amendment that provides for €180,000 fines for ticket touts – collection society SIAE isn’t hanging around, recently initiating its third court case this year against secondary ticket sellers.

The latest complaint, filed with the Tribunal of Milan on Friday, relates to tickets for Lady Gaga’s recently announced Joanne world tour, which visits Milan’s Mediolanum Forum (12,700-cap.) on 26 September.

Gaetano Blandini, the director-general of SIAE (Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori, Italian Society of Authors and Publishers), says tickets for the show were being sold on secondary sites for higher than face value “even before the start of the presale on 9 February”. He urges Italian buyers not to purchase secondary-market tickets, and to send evidence of unauthorised resale to nosecondaryticketing@siae.it.

On 17 January, SIAE announced it had filed an “urgent petition” with the Civil Court of Rome to address touting of tickets for U2’s shows at the Olympic Stadium next July.

That was followed on 27 January by news it was suing Viagogo for listing tickets for Vasco Rossi’s gig at Modena Park on 1 July – again, before they were even on sale. Rossi last year severed his ties with Live Nation Italy after its managing director, Roberto de Luca, admitted to passing inventory directly to Viagogo.

Switzerland-based Viagogo, meanwhile, is also under fire in the UK, having been accused by FanFair Alliance of “moral repugnance” and “profiteering at the expense of teenage cancer sufferers” by allowing touts to resell tickets for a Teenage Cancer Trust concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

 


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SIAE wins court judgment on Coldplay tickets

Italian collection society SIAE has won a court order to prevent the resale of tickets to Coldplay’s shows in Milan next July.

There was widespread outrage over the number of tickets for the two concerts, at the San Siro stadium (80,000-cap.) on 3 and 4 July, that immediately appeared on secondary sites, leading to legal complaints by consumer groups and, eventually, the banning altogether of secondary ticketing in Italy.

The budget law amendment outlawing secondary ticketing is expected to be passed by the end of January 2017, but the ruling by a Rome court brings the prohibition forward for the Coldplay concerts, even applying retroactively to tickets “previously bought on Seatwave, Ticketbis and Viagogo by computer programs able to circumvent the maximum limit of tickets sold to each consumer”, says a statement from SIAE (Italian Society of Authors and Publishers, Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori).

“We are very pleased with the positive outcome. This is an important step towards combating secondary ticketing”

Anyone caught contravening the judgment faces a fine of €2,000 per ticket resold.

“We are very pleased with the positive outcome,” says SIAE director-general Gaetano Blandini. “This is an important step towards combating secondary ticketing, both for consumers and for all authors, holders of intellectual property rights and those working in the field.”

 


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