Italy’s antitrust authority has taken measures against Meta Platform over an alleged abuse of its position in the country regarding music rights on the group’s platforms. The probe involves the US-based company, which owns Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, and its failure to renew copyright licenses with the Italian society of authors and publishers (SIAE). Consequently, all songs under SIAE’s books have been blocked on Meta’s platforms since March 16.
According to the Italian watchdog, Meta’s behavior is harming competition in the market, and it has ordered the company to resume talks with SIAE. While Meta does not agree with the precautionary measures taken by the Italian authority, it welcomed the opportunity to resume talks in order to find an agreement. A spokesperson for the company stated that they are eager to return to the negotiating table with all parties involved to reach a shared solution.
The case in Italy is just the latest in a series of legal battles that Meta has faced in Europe over copyright issues. Last year, the company reached a settlement with French publishers after a dispute over copyright fees. In addition, Meta has also faced scrutiny from the European Commission over its proposed acquisition of Kustomer, a customer relationship management start-up. The EU watchdog has expressed concerns over the deal, citing potential antitrust violations.
As for the music rights case in Italy, the dispute revolves around the renewal of copyright licenses for music posted on Meta’s platforms. SIAE manages the rights of more than 95% of Italian songwriters and publishers, and the organization has accused Meta of exploiting its dominant market position to negotiate better terms. The Italian authority’s intervention is a significant move, as it could set a precedent for future disputes between digital platforms and copyright holders.
The case highlights the challenges that social media companies like Meta face when it comes to content moderation and copyright law. As these platforms continue to grow and expand, they are facing increased pressure from governments and regulators to ensure that they operate within the law and respect the rights of copyright holders. The case in Italy shows that the authorities are willing to take action against companies that fail to do so. It remains to be seen whether Meta and SIAE will be able to reach an agreement that satisfies both parties and resolves the issue of music rights on the social media giant’s platforms.