Archive for January, 2012
The issue of collective management of copyright has moved from a relatively obscure and often ignored part of the policy agenda to the forefront. As music sales decrease, collective management in that field has continued to grow. As controls over individual reuse of text and image content has become impossible or undesirable (privacy or confidentiality of use), collective management of reprography has also grown exponentially. Collective management must respond by offering credible, efficient and transparent solutions, and not shroud itself in secrecy and generate mistrust. This calls for enlightened management and supervision by government where required. Canada offers a good, though imperfect, model (see here) and the Songwriters Association of Canada has put forward an interesting proposal (here). In my presentation at Columbia Law School (see the video here or read the text here), I compared various regulatory approaches. The lack of harmonization in this field is staggering, and has not been on the international IP agenda. Much of the international framework is based on private ordering by Collective Management Organizations (CMOs). But if CMOs want to be perceived as a major part of the solution to online copyright issues, such as the Google Books case, they, or those who oversee them, must do more.
It is a false dichotomy to say that there are exclusive rights on the one hand, and exceptions, on the other. Collective management is a middle zone, where uses are legal, not subject to individual authorization (most CMOs cannot refuse an authorization) but subject to payment. For a copyrighted work that has been legally put on the market by the right holder, this sounds better as a business model than trying to shut down web sites.