The European Union (EU) may get involved to overturn years of territorial music licensing arrangements across the community, to the possible detriment of artists.

Referring to an internal confidential study document, Reuters reports that the EU will this month launch a programme across to "foster EU-wide licensing of online music use and royalty collection".

Online music operators currently have to reach arrangements in each European country in order to sell tracks there, creating a bureaucratic maze some critics say.

Conversely, the situation creates great opportunities for artists - artists the music industry in its fight against piracy say should be protected - because it enables artists to sell their music rights to record and publishing houses on a country-by-country basis, to the highest bidder.

However, now Europe believes the interest of the music services will best be served by the creation of a European-wide license - meaning artists songs may be made available in territories they have not yet reached a physical distribution deal for yet.

Some royalty collection agencies favour such a change, as it would help ensure artists get the royalties that are due to them.