Edited by Ruth Towse and Christian Handke
Collective copyright management organizations appeared in the nineteenth century. They developed an efficient way to enforce copyrights in situations in which right holders and users were too numerous for authors to do so themselves. Collective rights management organizations (CRMOs) were pioneers. During the twentieth century, notably with the appearance of new technologies ñ such as radio and magnetic tapes ñ an exponential development occurred. CRMOs extended their activities into all creative domains and increasingly enjoyed natural (sometimes even legal) and long undisputed monopolies. The benefits of the CRMOsí ways of managing copyrights became so obvious that some legislatures established mandatory involvement of CRMOs for the exploitation of certain rights. This strong position, taken together with the close link between CRMOs and the copyright-based industries, notably publishers, who became (powerful) members of most of them, over time reduced the ability of CRMOs to adapt to situations that have appeared since the emergence of digitization and the Internet. Recent initiatives of the European Commission have attempted to encourage the necessary adaptations to digitization and the Internet. Unfortunately, the contradictory approaches of two of its Directorates-General (DGs) have increased the difficulties.
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