SIAE Works Return to Facebook and Instagram With ‘Transitional Agreement’ As Long-Term Licensing Talks Continue

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Venice, Italy. Photo Credit: Dan Novac

About two months after Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE) works were pulled from Instagram and Facebook due to a rights dispute, the organization has hugged it out with Meta and brought its members’ creative efforts back to the social platforms with a “transitional agreement.”

SIAE revealed the partial resolution of the much-publicized impasse – and the return of its works to Facebook and Instagram – via a brief release that was emailed to DMN. Last time we checked in on the licensing disagreement, which has elicited pushback from the global publishing industry, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) in late April handed down a preliminary ruling against Meta.

As part of the latter, Meta was ordered to resume licensing talks with (and, subject to approval, bring back the works of) SIAE, which previously told us that the Menlo Park-headquartered company “had never shared the fundamental information necessary for a fair negotiation.” Additionally, the more than century-old society relayed that Meta had during the months leading up to the dispute’s public announcement “refused to share information requested by the European Copyright Directive.”

Now, as highlighted at the outset, SIAE and the WhatsApp owner look to have taken a step towards putting the rights-related confrontation in the rearview – although the former party is still aiming to secure “a definitive and lasting” long-term agreement.

“The SIAE expresses satisfaction with this result, sought and achieved,” the entity penned of the works’ returning to Facebook and Instagram, “but remains committed to protecting the interests of its members by continuing to work tirelessly to reach a definitive and lasting agreement based on fairness and transparency, as also required by the European Copyright Directive.

“It also undertakes to continue negotiations in compliance with the decisions and precautionary measures dictated by the AGCM,” concluded SIAE, which was in 2018 slapped with an AGCM fine for allegedly abusing its market power against songwriters. (Five years later, one page on SIAE’s website remains dedicated to fielding anonymous “reports of illicit facts” concerning the organization’s operations.)

At the time of this writing, neither Meta nor AGCM officials appeared to have commented publicly on the newly inked transitional pact, and it remains to be seen how the watchdog’s investigation into the tech conglomerate’s “alleged abuse of economic dependence while negotiating with SIAE” will factor into talks regarding a more definitive resolution.

In any event, the rekindled relationship between Meta and SIAE has entered the media spotlight about one month after Snapchat unveiled licensing tie-ups with UnitedMasters, the Netherlands’ Buma/Stemra, and Switzerland’s SUISA.

It was only in May of 2022 that SUISA detailed plans to sue Snap in Germany over the app’s alleged years-long refusal “to pay for the music it uses” – though the society and the AR-minded social platform evidently put their dispute to rest relatively soon thereafter.