CPTech's Page on Collective Management of Copyrights


July 4, 2002, James Love, presentation at Banff Centre, New Media Institute Workshop, How should musicians be paid to create digital works?.

What is a Collective Management Organization?

French inventor and playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais was one of the first to express the idea of collective rights management. In 1777, he created the General Statutes of Drama in Paris. The meeting of 22 famous writers of that time over some financial matters turned into a discussion about collective protection of rights. They appointed mandatories, conducted the now famous pen strike (in the United State a similar strike would happen only two hundred years later) and laid a foundation for the French Society of Dramas' Authors Societe des auteurs dramatiques. In 1838, Honore de Balzac, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and George Sand established the Society of French Writers, la Societe des Gens de Lettres. The Society was charged with collecting royalties from print publishers...

Today, there are various kinds of collective management organization or groups of such organizations, depending on the category of works involved (music, dramatic works, "multimedia" productions, etc.) that will collectively manage different kinds of right.

In principle, collective management organizations are private organizations owned and run by the representatives of the rights holders themselves. In some countries, however, collective management organizations have a nature of a “para-state” organization. There exists great variety in involvement of the governments in collective management organizations. In some countries, like Germany, a separate extensive legislation exists that governs all aspects of collective management organizations. A government body is nominated to function as the controlling body. In many countries, the establishment of a collective administration demands a prior consent from the government. This consent may require reporting of the main results of the organization, for example once a year. – In Finland, for instance, it is nominated by the Ministry of Culture.

Collective management organizations administer the remuneration. In the special case of reproduction for private and personal use, some national legislation contains specific provision for equitable remuneration payable to the owners of rights and funded by a levy imposed on equipment or photocopies or both.

  • Music: The collective management organization negotiates with users (such as radio stations, broadcasters, clubs, theaters, restaurants and the like), or groups of users and authorizes them to use copyrighted works from its repertoire against payment and on certain conditions. On the basis of its documentation (information on members and their works) and the programs submitted by users (for instance, logs of music played on the radio in many European countries), the collective management organization distributes copyright royalties to its members according to established distribution rules. A fee to cover administrative costs, and in certain countries also socio-cultural promotion activities, is generally deducted from the copyright royalties. The fees actually paid to the copyright owners correspond to the use of the works and are accompanied by a breakdown of that use. In the US, Radio stations and other broadcasters are exempt from paying royalties to performers, but the exemption does not apply to digital broadcasts.

  • Printed Works: For scripts, screenplays, mime shows, ballets, plays, operas and musicals, the collective management organization acts as an agent representing authors. It negotiates a general contract with the organizations representing theaters in which the minimum terms are specified for the exploitation of particular works.

    The performance of each play then requires further authorization from the author, which takes the form of an individual contract setting out the author's specific conditions. The collective management organization then announces that permission has been given by the author concerned and collects the corresponding remuneration.

    For books, magazines, and other periodicals, newspapers, reports and the lyrics of songs, collective management mainly involves the grant of the right of reproduction, in other words allowing protected material to be photocopied by institutions such as libraries, public organizations, universities, schools and consumer associations.

    back to top

    Types of Licenses

    • Non-voluntary licensing arrangements , when allowed by international conventions, can be written into national legislation; in such cases, a right of use against remuneration is accorded that does not require the consent of the owner of rights. The implications of Article 9 (2) of the Berne Convention and Article 13 of the TRIPS Agreement have to be duly taken into account.

    • Voluntary licensing with back-up systems in national legislation. Since it is impossible for an organization to obtain mandates from all national and international right holders whose works are reproduced in its territory of operation, there are different legal techniques which support collective administration and make it possible that the licenses issued by the copyright organization also cover the rights of non-represented right holders.

    • Voluntary licensing systems In the common law tradition licensing is based on voluntary contracts. Collective Management Organizations obtain their licensing authority from mandates given by individual right holders. In some countries, for example the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, there are statutory provisions that encourage users and right holders to enter into such voluntary agreements. In other common law countries such as the United States there is no particular statutory involvement and management of licensing is governed by contracts and voluntary cooperation.

    back to top

    Examples of Collective Management Organizations

  • The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

  • BMI

  • The International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (RROs) provides informations on different models of RRO Operation in Practice. There are descriptions and examples for 3 different licensing systems in operation: non-voluntary licensing - legal licenses, voluntary licensing with back-up systems in legislation and voluntary licensing systems in several countries.

  • Collective Management Organizations Collections:
      US: Copyright Clearance Center Inc
      Total domestic reprographic collections in last completed financial year (FY 00): USD 79 million (est.) (EUR 79 million) and total reprographic distributions to national right holders in last completed financial year (FY 00): USD 57 million (est.) (EUR 57 million)
      Germany: Verwertungsgesellschaft WORT
      Total domestic reprographic collections in last completed financial year (1999): DEM 54.12 million (EUR 27.67 million) Total reprographic distributions to national rightholders in last completed financial year (1999): DEM 78.43 million (EUR 40.10 million) for all sectors - not possible to give figures for reprographic distributions only
      UK: Copyright Licensing Agency
      Total domestic reprographic collections in last completed financial year (1998-1999): GBP 22.7 million (EUR 36.5 million) Total reprographic distributions to national rightholders in last completed financial year (1998-1999): GBP 11.4 million (EUR 18.3 million)
    More examples on IFFROpage on collections.

  • Selected NGOs representing Collective Management Organizations:

    back to top

    Documents on Collective Management and Copyrights


  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act Summary

  • US Copyright Office's page on Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panels (CARP) and Licensing Information.
    The Copyright Royalty Tribunal Reform Act of 1993, Pub. L 103-198, 107 Stat. 2304, eliminated the Copyright Royalty Tribunal (CRT) and replaced it with a system of ad hoc Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panels (CARPs) administered by the Librarian of Congress (Librarian) and the Copyright Office (Office). The CARPs adjust royalty rates and distribute royalties collected under the various compulsory licenses and statutory obligations of the Copyright Act. The CRT Reform Act, which was effective immediately upon enactment, directed the Librarian and the Office to adopt the rules and regulations of the CRT found in chapter 3 of 37 CFR, 17 U.S.C. 802(d), and provided that the that the CRT's regulations were to remain in effect until the Librarian adopts ``supplemental or superseding regulations.''

  • WIPO's Page on Collective Management of Copyrights and Related Rights.

  • Russian Site on Collective Management of Intellectual Property and Related Rights: History, Meaning & Future Outlook.

  • UK Government Site on IP: What is Collective Licensing?

  • Extended Collective License in Norway: The Nordic Solution to complex copyright questions.
    An extended license system contains the following elements:
      The organization and the user conclude an agreement on the basis of free negotiations.
      The organization has to be nationally representative in its field.
      The agreement is by law made binding on non-represented right owners.
      The user may legally use all materials without needing to meet individual claims by outsiders and criminal sanctions.
      Non-represented right owners have a right to individual remuneration.
      Non-represented right owners have in most cases a right to prohibit the use of their works.

  • Collective Management of Rights in Canada: An International Perspective

  • April 22 and 23, 2002. Tarja Koskinen-Olsson (Finland). Establishment and Functioning of Collective Management Organizations: the Main Features.

    back to top

    Return to: CPTech Home -> Main IP Page