EU starts in-depth inquiry into online music licensing venture

A woman listens to music as the sun sets as seen between buildings on Boa Viagem beach in Recife June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Wednesday it had opened an in-depth investigation into the planned creation of an online joint venture by three organizations which collect rights for music. The joint venture would be between Britain's PRS for Music Limited (PRSfM), Sweden's Foreningen Svenska Tonsattares Internationella Musikbyra (STIM) and Germany's Gesellschaft für musikalische Auffuehrungs- und mechanische Vervielfaeltigungsrechte (GEMA). The Commission said in a statement that the venture could reduce competition among such organizations and lead to higher prices for online music licenses. "The Commission's investigation indicated that the aggregation of the repertoires of PRSfM, STIM and GEMA, currently among the most important in the EEA (European Economic Area), could lead to increased bargaining power for the joint venture," it said. The Commission now has 90 days until May 29 to take a final decision. (Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)