Collective Management of Copyright: Solution or Sacrifice?
The Kernochan Center Annual Symposium
Friday, January 28, 2011
Click here to view
The dream of a universal digital library and other potential large-scale uses of copyrighted works have led many in the private and the public sector alike to focus their attention on collective management organizations (CMOs). The need to get permissions can delay or discourage certain large-scale uses of works of authorship. CMOs could allow such projects to be done more cost-effectively by making a work-by-work copyright clearance process unnecessary.
The proposed settlement in the Google Books litigation provides for a Book Rights Registry that could license book authors’ rights to digitize and make available their books, unless the right holders opt out. Some critics of the settlement support a collective management scheme to permit digitization of books, but argue that it should be implemented through legislation rather than through a class action judicial settlement. The European Union, as a possible means to facilitate its Europeana project and other initiatives to digitize and make available a wide range of works of authorship, is focusing on the Nordic “extended collective licensing” mechanism – which would allow authorized collective management organizations to license on behalf of absent authors. Some scholars have invoked collective licensing or even compulsory licensing as a solution for unauthorized peer to peer file-sharing.
The United States does not, in general, have well-developed collective licensing schemes. One notable exception is collective management for the public performance of musical compositions, by the performing rights organizations (PROs) ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. The Copyright Clearance Center has an important role in licensing the reproduction of literary works for academic, corporate, and other uses, but does not enjoy the near-universal support that the PROs do.
Is collective management the answer to the desire for large-scale exploitation of copyrighted works? Our symposium will explore the potential role of collective management to facilitate the licensing of copyrighted works, particularly for internet-related uses. What problems do CMOs solve, and what issues do they create? How can CMOs be developed to enjoy broad support of right holders, operate efficiently, and enforce rights effectively? What are the international implications of broader use of CMOs? Will international treaty obligations pose any obstacles to transnational collective licensing, especially extended collective licensing? Would U.S. authors get their fair share of the proceeds derived from exploitation of their works abroad? Should CMOs operate on an opt-out or an opt-in basis? Are there any circumstances in which participation should be compulsory? How are the rights of individual authors and other right holders affected by CMO arrangements, particularly if the uses licensed by CMOs become more pervasive? Are there other, better alternatives? To view the discussion we had on January 28, please click here