Thousands of Italian songwriters face music removal on Facebook and Instagram as Meta gets caught up in license dispute.

The Facebook parent company Meta is removing the music repertoire of the Italian collecting society SIAE from all platforms after failed license negotiations. This means that songs by thousands of Italian songwriters will no longer be available on Facebook and Instagram.

Die Italian collecting society SIAE represents tens of thousands of songwriters and music writers in Italy. In a press release, it has now announced that Meta wants to exclude all songs from SIAE members from services such as Instagram or Facebook.

With the threat, Meta responds to the fact that the SIAE did not agree to a new proposal for a license agreement between the collecting society and the social media giant: The last license agreement between the two parties expired in early 2023.

No chance

In its press release, SIAE states that it was asked to accept a licensing agreement proposed by Meta without a transparent, joint assessment of SIAE’s repertoire having been carried out beforehand. In Meta’s refusal to disclose relevant information, SIAE sees a violation of the EU’s copyright directive.

Meta had proposed a flat rate, which it was not possible to determine whether it was fair compensation for the rights holders for the use of their music on Meta’s platforms. Accordingly, SIAE felt compelled to reject the non-negotiable offer. As a result, Meta began removing content from the SIAE repertoire from its services.

Across from Music Buisness Worldwide (MBW) SIAE has stated that Meta is said to have already threatened to remove the content if the collecting society does not accept the presented license agreement.

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Songwriters “stunned”

According to SIAE, Meta’s project affects all works directly managed by the collecting society. Works acquired through sublicenses are excluded. Because it is a multi-territory license, the content removal is effective in all European countries and also outside the EU territory (except for some countries like the US).

Facebook and Instagram users in these countries will then no longer be able to use the SIAE-protected songs to accompany their content. According to SIAE, Meta’s decision leaves Italian music writers and songwriters “stunned”.

Squeezing the Cost of License Fees as a Savings Measure?

According to SIAE, Meta justified the non-negotiable offer with a “budget limit”. In fact, the tech giant had recently announced numerous layoffs and further austerity measures.

The music publishing industry reacted worldwide with criticism of Meta’s actions. ICMP Director General John Phelan said in a statement that Meta had tried several times in the past to reduce license fees in other countries. He explains:

“What Meta is doing is an unsurprising use of force tactic, charging a take-it-or-done-it fee and removing music if it doesn’t like it to try to void the contract.”

Meta justifies the procedure with copyright protection

In response to a request from MBW, Meta itself explained that the partnership agreement with SIAE could not be extended and that, for copyright reasons, works licensed by SIAE will no longer be available in Meta’s music library. In principle, however, an agreement with SIAE is sought:

“We still have music deals in more than 150 countries and remain committed to reaching an agreement with SIAE that works for all parties involved.”

It remains to be seen whether Meta will make a more transparent offer to reach an agreement – ​​as will whether this type of negotiation tactic will also be used in future for license agreements with other collecting societies such as the German GEMA.

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