Letter to the European Voice: Setting straight the picture of collective rights-management organisations
Originally published here on 6/9/12
The portrayal of collective rights-management organisations (CMOs) in your editorial from 12-18 July is a caricature (“Copyright rules must keep up with digital world”, 12-18 July), and, as organisations representing authors, performers and music producers, we would like to correct that picture.
CMOs are non-profit organisations created for, and most often run by, the artists and creators themselves. They ensure remuneration is paid to right-holders, who individually would in most cases not be able to or, in other cases, would struggle to manage their rights and obtain the appropriate remuneration for the use of their creative works.
As a vital link between individual right-holders and the users of creative works, CMOs stop users from needing to obtain authorisations from thousands of individual right-holders. CMOs are a useful counterweight to increasingly powerful and dominant media and technology companies, whose business is based on consumer demand for films, music and books anywhere, anytime. At the same time, they allow authors and artists to continue creating their works and performances, while driving the growth of the digital single market.
The editorial suggests that “such monopolies” cannot promote cross-border trade or the management of rights across different territories. Would it help users to approach thousands of individual performers to obtain authorisation for the online use of their performances, rather than a single CMO? CMOs continue to play a vital role, facilitating the authorisation of mass usage of works/performances whilst reducing transaction costs.
Accordingly, a well-functioning network of reciprocal agreements between CMOs is essential for CMOs and, equally, is in the interest of users.
Collective management is a model created for better exercise of rights based on the consent of right-holders rather than on any monopolistic intention. Competition is possible between CMOs. Right-holders are free to join the entities of their choice.
Contrary to what is suggested in the editorial, remuneration for private copying is not a tax, but rather remuneration paid to right-holders as compensation for private copying; there is a causal link between the compensation due to right-holders and the act of private copying.
This type of remuneration remains an effective system in the digital age, when there are more ways of making private copies than ever before.
CMOs provide efficient management of this remuneration and a one-stop shop for those who are liable to pay such remuneration. Again, what is the alternative? That users approach several CMOs or even communicate directly with the thousands of performers, authors and producers?
The importance of private-copying remuneration should not be underestimated either. It remains an essential source of income for the vast majority of creators and artists.
Our organisations welcome the Commission proposal on collective rights-management and the appointment of the mediator on private copying. We have always been and remain willing to discuss improvements that would benefit everyone.
Xavier Blanc (AEPO-ARTIS)
Véronique Debrosses (GESAC)
Helen Smith (IMPALA)
Cécile Despringre (Society of Audiovisual Authors)