Collective Rights (Mis)Management Through the Lens of the Music Industry
European Intellectual Property Review (Forthcoming)
15 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2020
Date Written: October 10, 2019
Seen as perhaps not the most exciting part of the music industry, collective management societies (CMOs) provide a practical service, which aims at significantly reducing rights’ administration costs. Nonetheless, many harsh judgments of the manner in which CMOs operate have been given. This article analyses some of the pros and cons of CMOs and takes on a case study from Bulgaria to illustrate when management of rights risks becoming mismanagement. By unravelling the potential of CMOs, the article argues that these organisations presently find themselves before a new opportunity of reviving their crucial management role. The focus in this respect is on the newly adopted Directive 2019/970 on copyright and related rights and in particular, Article 17, which introduces a licensing obligation of online intermediaries. The article argues that CMOs may be key in solving the convoluted obligations of the new Directive. In order to do so, though, now more than ever it is imperative that they become better mediators and negotiators.
Following the introduction in Part I, Part II turns to the significant benefits of CMOs. Part III highlights some competition law issues that emerge whenever CMOs lose control and in that sense underlines the inherent monopolistic nature of CMOs. The focus here is on the abuse of dominant position taking on a case study from Bulgaria in which the relationship between the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) and the collective society responsible for the authors’ rights (Musicautor) was at stake. Part IV turns to the new challenge for CMOs in the face of the licensing obligations in Article 17 of Directive 2019/790, which if executed in a clever manner could indeed be the new horizon for CMOs. The last part (V) concludes the discussion by stressing the delicate position CMOs occupy in the balance between users and rightholders.
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