profile supplements the Intellectual Property guide,
providing information about Australian copyright collecting
societies - collective intellectual property rights administration
bodies - and some overseas counterparts. It points to
studies about their shape and operation.
contents of this profile
The following pages cover -
- government, industry and academic studies about collective
administration and the activity of particular societies
& New Zealand - an introduction to copyright collecting
societies that are active in Australia and New Zealand
- pointers to selected major societies in Europe
- collective rights administration in the US, Canada
and other parts of the world
- highlights from the history of collective administration
in Australia and overseas.
Identifying the use of copyright works and collecting
payments for that use is beyond the capacity of most individual
creators and many publishers. They lack the expertise
and the ratio of administration costs to revenue may be
extremely unfavourable on an item by item basis. Identification
by users - such as broadcasters - of the ownership of
intellectual property and distribution of payment for
that use can also be difficult and expensive. The BBC,
for example, supposedly uses around 60,000 music items
As a result, many copyright owners and copyright users
(with the endorsement of national governments) have turned
to collective administration schemes, where a specialist
body acts on behalf of individual owners.
In much of the world that administration is performed
by a network of not-for-profit copyright collecting societies
- sometimes known as authors' societies or reproduction
rights organisations (RROs). They often have a statutory
basis and may enjoy monopoly powers, with legislation
seeking to accommodate the interests of both copyright
users (eg pricing and licensing contracts) and individual
members (eg equitable distribution and quality of management).
In the US and some other jurisdictions administration
is by for-profit entities on a quasi-competitive basis.
Collecting societies in Australia, New Zealand, the UK
and other locales have five main functions.
works in which they hold the copyright or for which
they act as agent on behalf of their members for specific
use of those rights
revenue relating to use of the rights
revenues as royalties to members
into reciprocal arrangements with foreign
collecting societies to collect and distribute local
royalties to foreign rightsholders and to receive and
distribute royalties earned overseas to local rightsholdersh
and rights management
Societies (and their commercial counterparts) generally
utilise two distinct types of licences: blanket licences
and specific licences.
Blanket licences authorise copyright users to use, for
a specific period of time, all works for which the licensing
body is responsible. Such a licence might for example
provide a broadcaster with a single annual authorisation
encompassing many thousands of songs owned by thousands
of composers, lyricists and publishers.
Specific licences - sometimes characterised as transactional
licences or individual licences - deal with particular
uses of a specific work in a particular context and for
a specific time.
Collective administration, particularly of secondary uses
such as broadcasting, has developed with the proliferation
of rights and uses. Collective administration spreads
the cost of administration (eg establishment and maintenance
of databases, exemplary litigation, employment of advocates)
over all members of the society. 'Blanket licensing' reduces
the cost to consumers, with users paying a single fee
for access to the whole of a society's repertoire, thereby
eliminating high transaction costs that would be incurred
through clearing rights with every individual author,
publisher, composer, lyricist, artist, performer and record
Rights management is complex and concerns widely differing
rights such as
rights (eg copying by publishers, schools, businesses,
and rental rights
broadcasting and cable retransmission rights
licencing applies to a single territory but reciprocal
agreements between societies mean that it allows rightsholders
to gain remuneration for uses across the globe.
Collective management would be difficult rights bodiers
were unable to offer blanket licences and were accordingly
required to identify every work and then prove that they
were responsible for each right. Collective licenses reflect
the challenges of identifying all rights holders (some
of whom are unaware of collective management options).
Legislation in many countries accordingly recognises that
for the purposes of collective rights administration the
works of some rights holders are presumed to be administered
by the collective body, a guarantee to rights owners and
rights users that the works are being used legitimately.
The natural monopoly of some individual societies within
Australia and other countries such as the UK has posed
concerns for competition authorities but overall has resulted
in little action.
Collective administration dates from 1851, when the Societe
des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique (SACEM)
was established in France as a copyright collecting society
for creators and publishers. SACEM replaced the Société
des gens de lettres (Society of French Writers), founded
in 1837 by Honore de Balzac and Victor Hugo.
SACEM's establishment followed an 1847 ruling by the Tribunal
de Commerce de la Seine, based on a 1793 French law specifying
that the works of living authors could not be performed
in a public theatre without the author's assent. Songwriter
Ernest Bourget - now known only as an associate of Offenbach
- along with composers Victor Parizot and Paul Henrion
refused to pay for food or drink consumed at the fashionable
Ambassadeurs cafe on the Avenue des Champ-Elysees
They argued that the cafe benefitted by playing their
scores every day, without payment and without acknowledgement.
They had to pay for their seats and meals but neither
the cafe proprietor nor fellow customers intended to pay
for their creativity. The proprietor agreed that the music
was important - he kept the band - but declined to pay
The court ruled that justice meant the composers (and
their publisher) should share in the benefits from that
amenity. It ordered payment - the trio supposedly received
exemplary damages - but left the copyright owners to identify
the use of their works and secure payment from thousands
of cafes, theatres and other venues.
In 1850 Bourget and music publisher Colombier formed the
Agence Centrale pour la Perception Droits Auteurs et Compositeurs
de Musique, which was replaced by SACEM as a national
body in 1851. It served as a model for other societies
such as the UK Performing Rights Society (PRS), German
Gesellschaft fur Musikalische Auffuhrungs (GEMA) and Australia's
Australian Performing Right Association (APRA).
The American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers
(ASCAP) was established in 1914 and flourished despite
the 1939 creation by broadcasters of Broadcast Music Incorporated
(BMI) and other competitors.
BONUS, the first RRO, was founded in Sweden in 1973 to
serve right owners and users of printed materials, which
since the late 1960's had been subject to extensive photocopying.
Bernt Hugenholtz's 2000 paper
Rights allocation in a digital environment suggests
that collective rights bodies are significant because
through them authors gained real market power after 100
years of copyright evolution.
'pooling' their pecuniary rights in a jointly administered
corporation, the authors could now effectively impose
their conditions of use upon the producers, even more
so after securing the support of the legislature. In
many European countries, collecting societies enjoy
legal monopolies. Moreover, certain secondary rights,
such as the rental right guaranteed by Council Directive
92/100/EEC, have been declared unwaivable.
But the authors had to pay a price for the spectacular
successes of the societies. Efficiency demanded that
the authors unconditionally surrender their pecuniary
rights, thereby enabling the societies to offer blanket
licenses to their clients (broadcasters, cable operators,
restaurants, etc.). Thus, the exclusive right degenerated
into a right to remuneration. For the same reasons,
the societies discouraged the individual exercise of
moral rights. For ever striving for higher gross income,
and increasingly in competition with foreign societies,
the rights organizations gradually began to resemble
their traditional foes, the producers. Internally, their
mission was being undermined as well. Traditionally,
the societies administrated not only the rights of 'real'
authors, but of other, powerful right holders as well
(e.g. music publishers). As a consequence, producers
have always had an important say in collecting societies'
administration and politics.
There is no single collective rights management body covering
all countries or all of the web. As with most commercial
and intellectual property law there is instead a patchwork:
resplendent in places, threadbare or moth-eaten in others.
Reciprocity is encouraged by the Confederation Internationale
des Societes Auteurs & Compositeurs (CISAC),
the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations
the Bureau International des Sociétés Gérant les Droits
D'Enregistrement et les Reproduction Mecanique (BIEM)
and other bodies.
CISAC was formed in 1926 by the national rights management
bodies. It has been active in encouraging international
standards for the identification of copyright works such
as the International Standard Work Code (ISWC),
exchange of rights information between databases and the
development of electronic copyright management/digital
rights management (DRM) systems.
IFRRO began in 1980 as a working group of the Copyright
Committee of the International Publishers Association
(IPA) and the International Group of Scientific, Technical
& Medical Publishers (STM). It is primarily concerned
with photocopying and digital dissemination of text publications.