European Commission: More rules for Collecting Societies

By EDRi · April 21, 2004

The European Commission has issued a Communication on the Management of Copyright and Related Rights. In the period since 1991, 7 Directives have entered into force on copyright law, but none of these specifically addressed the role and functioning of the collecting societies. The Commission now recommends a Community framework instrument regulating the ‘establishment and status of collecting societies; their functioning and accountability subject to rules of good governance; as well as their internal and external control, including dispute settlement mechanisms.”

The main problem with the collecting societies is the lack of common rules, and the problems for commercial users to obtain a community-wide license. Both users and rightholders have also complained about the tariffs and operating expenses, access to arbitration and general lack of transparency and flexibility.

The Commission hails Digital Rights Management (DRM) as the best way to solve these issues in the long run, ending the powerful role of the collecting societies.

For DRM to be effective, “the establishment of a global and interoperable technical infrastructure based on consensus among the stakeholders appears to be a necessary corollary to the existing legal framework (…).” The Commission therefore plans a Recommendation on interoperability, including publication of open standards. While acceptance among consumers is described as key to the success, “wider acceptance is yet to be reached”.

The Communication briefly mentions the danger of a technological lock-up, when technological measures prevent users from enjoying legitimate exceptions to the copyright, such as making a private copy. In the upcoming (November) review of the Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC), the Commission will review those provisions in the different Member States.

European Commission Communication on collecting societies (16.04.2004)