Copyright Summit: Collaboration And Protection: Digital Management For The 21st Century

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Washington, DC – Collaboration, protection, and data were keywords during the second and final day of this week’s World Creators Summit (WCS) as discussions about innovative solutions to online infringement and improving collection rights management dominated the day.

Collective Management

Eric Baptiste, chief executive officer of the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), opened a morning of collective management discussions with a keynote address in which he defended collecting societies’ efforts to adapt their businesses models for the 21st century.

“To sceptics and politicians around the world, I say we’ve been very diligent and, unlike other industries, we’ve been confronting our issues,” Baptiste said. “Before imposing binding rules on us, look at what CISAC is already doing.”

The pressure on collecting societies’ that Baptiste referenced was the jumping off point for a discussion about the need for cooperation within individual collective rights management organisations and with each other.

“The way this industry has to work is together, not just societies and publishers but also managers, record companies, concert promoters – we all need to find a way forward,” said Andrew Jenkins, chairman of the International Confederation of Music Publisher and executive vice president for Asia Pacific Region and Industry Affairs at Universal Music Publishing International.

So what about best practices for governance? Perhaps, Jenkins said, but it would need to ensure that collecting societies don’t discriminate in terms of membership. A handful of panellists pointed to the European Commission Collective Rights Management (CRM) directive as a good piece of legislation to aid in governance.

Gathering and managing data generated daily by performance and media platforms across the globe was a hot topic, too.

“The good news is that the identifiers are all there and what needs to happen is that we need to start linking them all,” said Michael Battison, chair of the International Standard Musical Work Code, an identification system developed by CISAC. “We need to pull all those numbers together, but it’s easier said than done.”

The sentiment was generally shared by others, pointing to big data as a problem for everyone, particularly collecting societies. However, Michael Whalen, a composer who works for the audio fingerprinting company TuneSat that tracks TV, radio and internet performances in 14 countries, seemed baffled by collecting societies’ data difficulties.

“I’m living in the future, a world that I would call post-data. The post-data future,” he said. “I live in a world where I don’t struggle with my data. I take it and use it to the benefit of my clients.”

Digital Initiatives

Continued calls for IP enforcement online have resulted in a variety of initiatives all around the world. Focusing on Japan, France, and the US, speakers outlined about the various programs implemented in their regions. The discussion was moderated by Helienne Lindvall, songwriter, musician, and media columnist for the UK Guardian newspaper.

Centre for Copyright Information Director Jill Lesser spoke about a recently developed internet service provider (ISP)-based Copyright Alert System (CAS) to handle online copyright infringement (IPW, US Perspectives, 14 March 2013). Lesser highlighted the educational nature of CAS, which has an emphasis on “directing people to legal choices.” She also applauded the ISPs, saying their involvement is a “significant move forward in the IP protection movement.

Sarah Jacquier, director of legal affairs at the French authority for the diffusion of works and the protection of rights on the internet (French acronym HADOPI), reported on the HADOPI experience. She made mention of a recent report prepared for the French government recommending a softening of the HADOPI three-strikes system (IPW, Access to Knowledge, 23 February 2009) that can remove internet access for anyone found with infringing content three times. The report most significantly recommends that in the event of illegal file-sharing, rather than termination of internet access and having to pay up to €1,500, the offender would retain access and fines would be topped at €60. Jacquier told Intellectual Property Watch that it is “just a report.” It will be analysed by the French government but it is unclear when that will be done, she said.

Satoshi Watanabe, deputy general manager of the General Affairs Bureau for the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC), mentioned Japan’s lack of a graduated response system when compared to the US and France. However, he stressed that since passing new legislation last year, sales from lawful sources have increased for the first time after 30 years.

Protecting IP Online

John Morton, director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), pandered to the crowd of creators during his keynote speech, saying: “I’m here for two reasons: first I value what you do. Second, I think your work deserves to be protected from theft and misuse.”

ICE is the principal investigative arm of the US Department of Homeland Security designated to “promote the investigation of criminal violations of intellectual property” and handles about 2,500 criminal cases per year, according to Morton.

Morton showed a brief slideshow of legitimate and counterfeit websites, demonstrating how difficult it is for federal officials and consumers to identify online infringement. “When the line between lawful and criminal is invisible, that’s when you need to watch out,” he said.

Calling for continued creative voluntary solutions, international cooperation, and stronger domestic laws, Morton explained the difficulties ICE faces in dealing with online criminals, both domestic and foreign. “What computer am I going to seize?” he propositioned. “Who am I going to handcuff?”

He was one of several speakers at the event to point to the US Constitution as evidence that creators’ rights should be protected with the utmost fervour.

“Our Constitution creates a federal responsibility, and I quote, ‘to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors, the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries,’” he said.

He hinted that current laws treat entertainment and creative industries differently and more unfairly than software and pharmaceutical industries when it comes to IP protection, but gave no indication how this could be rectified or if ICE would be a part of that discussion.


Lindvall of the Guardian told Intellectual Property Watch that after attending the last biennial WCS in 2011, it was encouraging to see discussions shift away from the general topic of piracy to actions that creators can take to begin making money on the legal side. The work, however, is far from done.

“More creators need to be vocal,” Lindvall said. “There is still a disconnect between creators’ reality and the perceived reality from consumers.”

Lindvall pointed to the consistent theme of consumer education as a step forward, saying, “the veil has been pulled away from big companies like Google but these issues need to be in the public space and mainstream media more often.”

Kelly Burke may be reached at

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  1. Not Impressed says

    Before my book got pirated, I was making $300 – 400 a month on it.

    After my book got pirated, I was only making $300 – $400 a month on it.

    See the difference?


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