The decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on March 21, 2024, in case C-10/22, addresses a legal issue related to the management of author’s rights and related rights in the context of Directive 2014/26/EU and other relevant EU provisions. The case arises from a conflict between Liberi editori e autori (LEA) and Jamendo SA, concerning Jamendo’s activity as an independent management operator in Italy, a service that LEA argues is carried out illegally under Italian legislation.

Directive 2014/26/EU establishes the requirements for the collective management of author’s rights and related rights and for the granting of multi-territorial licenses of rights on musical works for their online use in the internal market. This directive, along with other EU regulations such as Directives 2000/31/EC on electronic commerce and 2006/123/EC on services in the internal market, provides a framework for the management of author’s rights in the EU.

The Court examined whether Italian legislation that reserves the activity of intermediation in the area of author’s rights exclusively to collective management entities, excluding independent management operators like Jamendo, is compatible with Directive 2014/26/EU. The question was raised as to whether this exclusion violates the principles of the free provision of services in the internal market established by the TFEU.

The CJEU concluded that Directive 2014/26/EU does not exhaustively harmonize the access requirements of independent management operators to the activity of managing author’s rights. However, national legislation that absolutely prevents these operators, established in other Member States, from providing author’s rights management services in a specific Member State, constitutes a restriction on the free provision of services guaranteed by Article 56 TFEU. Such a restriction cannot be justified by the objective of protecting author’s rights in a coherent and systematic manner, as it could be achieved through less restrictive measures that allow these operators to comply with specific regulatory requirements justified by that objective.

Therefore, the Court declared that the Italian legislation in question is incompatible with Article 56 TFEU in relation to Directive 2014/26/EU, by absolutely and generally excluding the possibility for independent management operators established in other Member States to offer their author’s rights management services in Italy.