Re-Constructing Intellectual Property Law in a Knowledge Society
Edited by Thomas Riis
Chapter 3: Collective agreements for the clearance of copyrights – the case of collective management and extended collective licences
For many years copyright exclusivity has not only protected against direct copying of works but also against public performance and secondary uses of works. As a result, the mass use of music in radio and television, the photocopying of literary works in schools, or the provision of access to website material by public libraries all require the permission of the right holders (unless permitted by a specific limitation or exception). For more than a century copyrights have been cleared through collective management organizations (CMOs) by means of collective agreements. Collective management of copyrights has proved to be mutually beneficial for copyright holders and users of copyrightable works. Mass use of copyrightable works (e.g. by a broadcaster) normally involves an extremely high number of copyrights which in practice are impossible to clear on an individual basis. Even if the broadcaster was able to identify the relevant right holders, the difficulties of contacting each right holder and negotiating an agreement would be insurmountable. Hence, a collective solution is needed. CMOs manage copyrights collectively on behalf of individual right holders. From the users’ perspective the clearance of rights becomes much easier because users only need to contact and negotiate with one or a few parties (the CMOs), and from the right holders’ perspective the CMOs facilitate the exercise of copyrights by pooling a large number of individual licences into one collective licence and then by monitoring the users of the copyrightable works and ensuring that the users comply with the licence.
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