Italian Society of Authors and Publishers Works Pulled From Meta Platforms Amid Licensing Dispute

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Venice, Italy. Photo Credit: canmandawe

Facebook parent Meta has pulled the works of Italian creators over a rights-related dispute, according to the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE), which says that its members are “bewildered” by the “unilateral decision.”

The European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers (GESAC), which counts SIAE as a member, reached out to DMN with word of the purported takedowns (extending to all European nations and certain international markets) today. At the time of this writing, however, Meta – which announced 10,000 additional layoffs on Tuesday – didn’t appear to have commented on the matter via an official update.

In any event, SIAE in a formal release indicated that it had for some time been negotiating a new agreement with Meta, after their prior deal expired at 2023’s beginning. But the Instagram owner is said to have forwarded a “unilateral proposal” to SIAE and called on the more than century-old organization to accept the lump-sum framework without a “transparent and shared evaluation of the actual value of the repertoire” at hand.

Needless to say, given the current impasse, SIAE didn’t accept the alleged proposal, instead describing Meta’s stance as “in contrast with the principles established by the” EU’s highly controversial Copyright Directive.

“This position, along with Meta’s refusal to share relevant information for a fair agreement, is evidently in contrast with the principles established by the Copyright Directive for which authors and publishers across Europe have strongly advocated,” the society communicated. “SIAE will not accept impositions from an entity that exploits its position of strength to obtain savings at the expense of the Italian creative industry.”

SIAE elaborated upon the circumstances surrounding the music pulldowns (specifically affecting “all works directly managed by SIAE, except those obtained through sub-licensing,” per higher-ups) when contacted by DMN. According to this more detailed account of the situation, the WhatsApp owner provided a “‘take it or leave it’” contract, “threatening to remove the content if the offer was not accepted.”

“However, SIAE had always officially communicated to Meta of the impossibility to accept the offer since Meta had never shared the fundamental information necessary for a fair negotiation,” the Italian organization reiterated. “Furthermore, Meta refused to share information requested by the European Copyright Directive, citing its internal policies as the reason for the impediment.

“Meta justified its inability to increase the economic offer with the explanation of a budget limit,” SIAE stated. “However, the budget defined by Meta was determined unilaterally and insufficiently, and Meta in any case always refused to apply the MFN [most-favored-nation] clause to ensure SIAE a fair treatment and creators a fair remuneration.”

Moving forward, SIAE said that it hopes “Meta will reconsider its position and be more open to discussion and [the] sharing of necessary information to restart negotiations.” Meta didn’t respond to a request for comment in time for publishing. But this latest rights-related dispute arrives after the company put to rest a separate disagreement with Kobalt Music last year, when a trial date was set for an infringement suit levied by Epidemic Sound.