I am back from Vilnius again where the Mykolas Romeris University, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania organized a conference on the collective management of authors’ and neighbouring rights in Europe, focusing on the implementation of the 2014/26/EU Directive on Collective Rights Management.
Professors of copyright law from Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Germany discussed the necessary changes to their national copyright law to comply with the Directive and the possible need to develop a separate legislative corpus on the collective management of copyright and neighbouring rights. They highlighted the growing use of the term “rightholders” which dilutes the original authors among their licensees (producers, distributors) and the poor reference to authors’ rights in the 2014/26/EU Directive. I presented the challenges of the implementation of the Directive for audiovisual authors’ societies. Today - at the implementation stage – they face the same problems they denounced at the time of the negotiation and adoption of the Directive: a text targeting music societies because of their dominant position, but applicable to all kinds of collective management organisations (CMOs) whatever their size and the rightholders they represent, thus ill-adapted to audiovisual authors’ CMOs. The remaining question will concern the attitude of Member States towards this text. How will the Directive fit with their existing supervision mechanisms? Will they rethink their existing systems or adapt the Directive’s requirements to their local mechanisms?
When a Directive (Wikipedia definition) requires Member States to achieve a particular result without dictating the means of achieving that result (which is the usual process) Member States normally have a certain amount of leeway as to the exact rules to be adopted. But when a text like Directive 2014/26/EU goes into such detail on the way CMOs have to be organized and governed, on their distribution plans, the way they communicate with their members, their reporting requirements – which make CMOs some of the most regulated private non-profit organisations in the world! - it leaves little room for Member States to enact real implementation. If Member States are left with nothing to decide, then the temptation to just copy-paste the Directive is strong. Is this an example of better regulation?