Q&A with Christophe Depreter, Managing Director of SABAM
– What do you consider will be the biggest challenge for SABAM in the months and years to come?
Sabam meets many important challenges. The two most important at the moment are:
Improving the external image of SABAM by totally reviewing its approach to communication and involvement in cultural sponsorship.Starting, one way or another, with decent Internet collections from Access Providers.
– How important are authors’ societies like SABAM for Belgium today?
Collective management is the guarantee that culture and creation can keep on existing, and this isn’t just big ideas. By its totally private/non-public nature, a collecting society gives creators the chance to live independently from the revenue of their creations and to participate in national culture, which is the basis of a national or a sub-national identity.
– What does your daily work consist of?
Making sure Sabam will be able to meet the challenges and secure its role in serving its members.
– What are your views on EU policy toward authors’ societies? What are you expecting from the EU institutions?
The European Union seems to be quite divided on the issue of authors’ societies. Some Commissioners clearly want to help us, some consider us as their enemies. Collective management and copyright are very topical issues in the European Parliament. The EU should try to have a better multi-disciplinary vision of all the challenges that intellectual property and its management are faced with. It should try to have a more clear and better coordinated understanding of the impact of the digital era on creation. This should proceed from a longer term strategy. We aren’t gangsters. An in-depth dialogue should be(re-)opened.
– Cross border licensing is an issue for EU officials. What is the role of SABAM in the EU digital market? What are the challenges in this global market? Is there room for the Belgium music abroad?
Sabam issues licenses to any online user in Belgium. Currently, our role is mainly national, due to the fragmentation of the repertoires. The challenges are monetizing the uses of our repertoire. We should also be much better lobbyists in defending our interests against those of enormous users like Google. Belgian music is not as well-known as Belgian chocolates, but Belgian music and films are appreciated abroad, and some 10% of our incomes are generated in other countries.
– Transparency and governance of collecting societies is sometimes challenged. What can be improved?
Sabam is now really cutting edge on this issue. We have adopted a Charter of Corporate Governance, a code of deontology and an audit charter. All these elements are a logical piece of the respect we have for our members, and of the efficiency they deserve.