Where next for collective rights management in Europe? Authorsocieties.eu joins the debate at the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels

Where next indeed?  This week saw authors, industry, policy-makers and collective rights management societies gather together to mull the draft directive and the way forward for Collective Rights Management in Europe.    

Since the draft proposal came out in July, it seems as though everyone in Brussels has been talking about Collective Rights Management.

On Tuesday – at an event pulled together by Gesac (organiser of this web platform) in collaboration with the news service, EUObserver – some of the debate’s leading stakeholders mulled some of the key issues of the debate – and whether the directive in its current form goes far enough to answer existing problems.

The event drew a vast crowd from Brussels and beyond – from policy-makers, collective management societies and industry to, crucially, creators themselves. On this issue, it seems, everyone has something to say.

To remind the audience of who’s at the heart of the debate, the event began with a captivating performance by Portuguese pianist and composer, maestro Victorino d’Almeida who played a piece of his composition after giving his insight on the debate, underlying that every individual author is a source of energy for the economy.  Indeed, creators were a vocal presence throughout the afternoon – seizing the opportunity to share their point of view on both the draft directive and collective rights management and author societies more generally.

 Wally Badarou, author and member of the Board of Directors of SACEM (a France-based author society) sat on a panel alongside Marielle Gallo, MEP and rapporteur on the dossier for the European Peoples’ Party; Francoise Castex MEP and shadow rapporteur for the Socialist and Democrats, Maria Martin-Prat, Head of Unit, Copyright, DG Internal market and services; and Krzystof Wojciechowski, member of the European Broadcasting Union Copyright Group. He emphasised that creators and author societies are not only on the same team but also indivisibly linked:  creators both work for and are served by author societies.  The other panellists were keen to listen to his point of view.

Here are some of the comments that were made on the draft directive:

  • Marielle Gallo, MEP European Peoples’ Party and rapporteur: overall the directive in its current form ‘responds to the needs of authors’.
  • Cecilia WikstromMEP for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats group: the draft is ‘a good point of departure for a truly single digital market’
  • Wally Badarou, Author, SACEM: ‘We are the author societies! Societies are not separate from us or against us.’
  • Francoise Castex, MEP for the Socialist and Democrats Group: ‘Transparency, internal democracy and fair remuneration are key for creators’
  • Eva Lichtemberger, MEP Greens Group: ‘Centralisation of the market should be avoided.’
  • Will Page, Spotify: the draft is ‘a great piece of work’.

Christophe Depreter, head of SABAM (the Belgium collective management society) and Chair of GESAC agreed that the draft directive is a positive step but argued that it does not go far enough, yet, to reflect the full value that author societies bring to creators. Wally Badarou underlined the role of authors and composers in the governance of the CMS.  Authors are the employers of the executive people to whom they give their instructions on how to manage their rights

Robert Levine, a guest speaker at the Conference who has recently written a book on the issue of safeguarding copyright in a changing climate, added invaluable insights from a US citizen living in Europe on author rights and their protection in an increasingly online world. He emphasised that if improvement is certainly needed, collective management societies have proved successful for decades and are still the best solution to manage copyright in a global economy.

With the CRM debate gaining pace in Brussels, the event was a crucial opportunity to take a step back and listen to all sides of the debate.

We’d like to thank everyone for their participation and invaluable contributions.