Christian Engström, Pirat

16 september 2012

Collective Rights Management — Request For Comments

Filed under: Copyright Reform,English — Christian Engström @ 15:29

Colecting societies will have to live up to certain minimum rules on transparency and accounting, according to a proposal from the Commission

The Commission has presented a proposal for an EU-wide directive on Collective Rights Management.

Directive on collective management of copyright and related rights and multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online uses in the internal market COM(2012) 372/2 is the full name of it, but it appears that everybody will be calling it the CRM Directive (for Collective Rights Management). (cashed)

In this directive, the Commission wants to do two things. First, to establish minimum rules on transparency, accounting standards, and supervisory functions within all collecting societies operating in Europe. Second, to set up rules to promote multi-territorial licensing of musical works, so that it becomes easier for companies like Spotify to establish themselves on a pan-European basis.

Both objectives are sensible and urgent, so this is a ”positive” dossier, where there is a chance to make improvements over the status quo.

I have read through the Commission’s proposal, and on the whole, I think it is very good.

The rules on transparency, accounting standards, and supervisory functions for the collecting societies are quite detailed, but this is a good thing. By spelling out in some detail what it is that they want, the Commission increases the chance that they will have a real harmonizing effect. A certain level of harmonization is needed if the proposed rules on multi-territorial are to work in practice, so the two parts have a natural connection.

The rules that the Commission proposes are very basic and sensible, so although they are detailed, it would be very hard to argue that any of the provisions would be too hard to meet for a reasonably well run society. We will have to watch the process in the European Parliament and the following steps to make sure that these rules are not watered down by lobbyists from collecting societies that would themselves have problems in living up to these very basic standards.

There are a few things that I have noticed in the directive that I think can be improved.

For example, in Article 12.2 of the proposal it says that if a collecting society collects money on behalf of a rightholder, but is unable to locate that rightholder within 5 years, the collecting society can keep the money and use it for their own purposes. This I think is a bad idea, since it in effect creates an incentive for the collecting societies not to work too hard at locating the rightholders that should rightly have the money.

A better idea, in my opinion, would be to say that each Member State should set up a fund to be used for cultural purposes, and that the collecting societies should pay any money that was unclaimed after 5 years to that fund. The exact purposes that the money in the fund would be used for could be decided by the individual Member States, but one such purpose could be to pay for the digitization of orphan works in the collections in public libraries, museums, and archives, including the payment of compensation to reappearing  rightholders, in accordance with the Orphan Works Directive that the European Parliament adopted in September 2012.

I also question why, in Article 12.1, the collecting societies need 12 months after the end of a financial year to pay out money they owe to artists and authors. In this age of computers they ought to be able to distribute the money a lot faster than that.

I would like comments from interested parties who have looked at the directive and/or have first hand experience of dealing with collecting societies. Please use the comment field to either post your observations, or give a link to comments published elsewhere.

I am the Green shadow rapporteur for this directive in the Legal Affairs Committee JURI, which is the lead committee, so I will be following this report very closely.

As I said, I think looks like a good proposal that we should be able to support without having to make too many amendments. But as always, the devil is in the detail. I may have missed some really serious problem hidden somewhere in the text, or there may be a lot of other minor problems that need to amended if the directive is going to be a good one.

What do you think? The comment field is open.


Others who comment on the directive: IPKat, Kluwer Copyright Blog,, Digital Europe, The Twenty-First,

9 kommentarer

  1. Reblogged this on Urbansundstrom’s Weblog.

    Kommentar av urbansundstrom — 16 september 2012 @ 18:07

  2. […] Collective Rights Management — Request For Comments. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

    Pingback av Collective Rights Management — Request For Comments « Urbansundstrom’s Weblog — 16 september 2012 @ 18:10

  3. For those interested in the difference between an early version of the directive (”leak”) and the final version (”draft”) I’ve made a ”diff” here:

    There are quite a lot of small interesting details in the diff that makes you wonder why the Commission changed the text. I’ve posted som observations here:

    Kommentar av ehj — 16 september 2012 @ 20:49

  4. they’ll be bound to fight this, blacken it, tarring it however they can

    Kommentar av manen — 16 september 2012 @ 22:54

  5. Sir, thank you for posting this and for asking for our comments.

    ”if a collecting society collects money on behalf of a rightholder, but is unable to locate that rightholder within 5 years, the collecting society can keep the money and use it for their own purposes”

    That is unacceptable. I agree with your own proposal to use the money for cultural purposes.

    ”I also question why, in Article 12.1, the collecting societies need 12 months after the end of a financial year to pay out money they owe to artists and authors. In this age of computers they ought to be able to distribute the money a lot faster than that.”

    That is so unfair I don’t know where to start. Collecting societies need to be more transparent and less grasping. I’m starting to question the need to have them in the first place. They seem to exist only to make money for themselves.

    Kommentar av wendycockcroft — 17 september 2012 @ 12:40

  6. Hela frågan är humbug… hopsamlandets förvaltning av gemensamma rättigheter förutsätter det som ännu inte finns och det som finns av ”mänsklig” rätt föreligger inte rättmätligen innan det ”mänskliga” gemensamt förverkligats… frågan bör handla om sätt att personligen samla ihop något gemensamt, Hur och inte Vad… den givna ”rätten” är orätt-färdigt tillkommen… det ”mänskliga” är alltid ett begrepp som söker sin mening genom rätt färd orättfärdigt… handling är det omedvetet medvetna… det som finns förvaltas redan… hur förvaltas det? Inte oväldigt, Inte demos väldigt ens i vårt land… ingen är sitt eget upphov innan ”Jag” och ”Du” och ”Vi” får för oss att begära och hävda det… det är en makthandling jag avstår ifrån…

    Kommentar av Nils Ivar Tenmann — 18 september 2012 @ 9:58

  7. We all know these are not really rights we are talking about but priviliges granted that work via removing other’s rights. You can argue the pragmatics that these priviliges are necessary and provide economic incentives but first we need to stop calling them rights and call them what they are ‘temporary granted priviliges’ or ‘privilige licensing tetms’. I hate it when I see the words illegal content when they mean ‘license disputed content’ that upsets the status quo (including the collection agencies).

    There is currently no license system that can be tracked to see if it is fit for purpose.

    So there needs to be some kind of transparent registration system to avoid the many technical and pragamatic issues and abuse that arises. Much like copyright required registration and renewal in the old days or it just lapsed into public domain.

    There is no reason such a system couldn’t be built with today’s technological infrastructure. So my second recommendation is no registration then no protection, no collection for digital content. Then anyone wishing to distribute can tap into that system, so less likely to prevent innovation. There should be no license rates that discriminate between platforms either, such as US copyright is worded to allow for i.e. simply price disruptive competitors out.

    A registration system open to all would also mean you could log fair use usages against content to prevent abuse (i.e. false take downs etc). Also easy to track real use, so we can determine if it really works and does what it should and whether the law needs to change. I can’t see any decent content technology being viable without a privilige/license tracking system. The current system just tries to keep us in the past.

    My suggestion might also make collection agencies obsolete eventually, so they will hate it no doubt.

    Kommentar av John — 19 september 2012 @ 20:27

  8. Great news. Have been following the directive from it’s earlier stages and it definitely is a step in the right direction and toward the right aims.
    I also agree with your criticism. When collecting societies can keep the money whenever they don’t find the rights-holder, they probably won’t put a great effort into looking for them. Also, the payout due date is ridiculously late. Flattr can handle millions of transactions on a monthly basis, the European national collecting behemoths can surely set-up infrastructure to handle many times that many requests without stretching payout intervals.

    My additional point of criticism would be, that the directive doesn’t force EU-wide licensing, it just tries to create favourable conditions. As the directive text itself says, territorial licensing is also done for commercial reasons, which do not cease to exist just because the multi-territorial way gets a nice new pavement through these facilitative measures.
    Nonetheless, a directive worth supporting.
    I posted the long version of my thoughts on the matter here:

    Kommentar av Paul — 20 september 2012 @ 14:12

  9. With the EU law on collective rights management being drafted and expected in 2011, next year presents a unique opportunity for us EU “middle class” artists to join forces and show the European Commission that we are demanding a fair and transparent way of distributing our money, best achieved by using technology already available that can monitor actual usage and which is not being applied by our collecting societies.

    Kommentar av mercadeo internet — 24 september 2012 @ 18:10

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