Should WIPO Lead Creation Of A Global Repertoire Database? 22/11/2010 by Kaitlin Mara for Intellectual Property Watch and William New 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)To solve many of the dilemmas facing copyright holders in the digital age, some say the World Intellectual Property Organization must create and administer an international repertoire database, compiling information about who owns what rights related to specific artistic works. So said speakers at a closing panel at a WIPO symposium on the future of copyright in the digital environment, which took place 4-5 November. Speakers’ presentations are available online here. The symposium was held as part of the WIPO Development Agenda. Meeting the need for such a database would “represent an opportunity for WIPO,” which gets much of its current revenues from the patent database and registration process, said Phil Hardy, a music industry journalist from the United Kingdom. This would do a similar thing. And “who else could do it? We’ve seen various well-intentioned societies attempt to do it and fail, primarily because their interests are limited,” he said, adding that commercial institutions do it successfully “but only for certain narrow niche areas of activity,” so my request is “please WIPO come in the door!” This database should cover all known or copyright musical works, the writers of the work, the owners of the rights, the entity on behalf of those owners who can licence on a territory-by-territory basis, and all known sound recording data, said Hardy. Jane Dyball, senior vice president of Warner/Chappell Music Ltd in London, said music publishers are completely dependent upon licensing for their entire business model, as they manufacture no products. What they need from WIPO are best practice guidelines for copyright education and enforcement against “copyright theft,” she said. But she added that while enforcing against copyright theft, for certain types of use “we should perhaps be more free and easy with access to our copyrights.” The idea of a repertoire database “is that there is one source of truth for data which relates to musical works throughout the world,” said Dyball. This is essential for music publishing, music composition rights and collection society rights. For music publishers, if there is a correction in the division of rights related to a song, it has to be corrected several times across different locations, but a database would provide a “universal source of truth that would then send information out.” Bendik Hofseth, chairman of the International Council of Authors and Composers of Music in Brussels, emphasised that the database should be set up as a reference rather than a database aimed at direct licensing. Direct involvement in licensing would be a breach of WIPO’s mandate, he said. The question of ownership is “one of the most difficult questions to get over,” said Dyball, and one of the main factors in why a database has yet to be created. “Everybody wants to own data, so therefore there’s a reluctance to share data. And that’s something we need to get over in trying to build this,” she said, as “whoever ends up owning it, the most important thing is that people have access to it.” WIPO already has been looking at these issues, officials said. Trevor Clarke, WIPO assistant director general for copyright issues, said at the meeting’s end that WIPO is “prepared to facilitate” a blue sky commission, suggested by Larry Lessig at the beginning of the meeting, changes to licensing practices, a global repertoire database, and efforts to reduce antagonism between copyright and competition. WIPO Internet Treaties Implementation of existing WIPO treaties might also be of use, said another panellist. Dora Salamba-Makwinja, chief executive officer of the Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA), highlighted the so-called WIPO Internet Treaties from 1996: the Copyright Treaty and the Performances and Phonograms Treaty. Very few countries, especially in the developing world, have ratified them, she said, and WIPO has “so far not demonstrated how effective implementation of the two treaties can contribute to access to knowledge in the digital environment and how they can facilitate online licensing of copyrighted works.” These treaties ensure that rights holders can use technical protection measures to protect their rights, and call for member states to provide legal protection, including measures against circumvention of technical measures used by rights holders, Salamba-Makwinja said. Such measures often spark controversy in the developed world among digital freedom advocates. Access to Knowledge? Sisule Musungu of think tank IQsensato presented a paper arguing that the concept of access to knowledge can provide a basis for governments and international organisations to take action on licensing of creative works in the digital age. It suggests using the elements of legitimacy, creativity and innovation, and participation and collaboration to test different approaches to licensing. Musungu identified nine concerns related to access to knowledge. These include: social, economic and cultural development; enabling the largest number of people to participate in the creation of knowledge and knowledge resources: how to promote and facilitate new business models; protecting and supporting the interests of creative individuals and communities; and preserving and expanding the knowledge commons and the public domain. Other concerns are: anti-competitive practices; the effects of technological measures; the veracity of the evidence and justifications for new IP norms; and the level of participation by different actors in international policy and legislative processes. Looking Forward New thinking going forward is important, said Hofseth. “If we build our future on obsolete and controversial models of the past we will not get anywhere,” said Hofseth, saying that the current crisis for the recording industry also affects writers. On the one hand, multinational publishers or record labels “are inevitably pushing for a maximum return of revenue … serving their agenda of monoculture through a one-size fits all approach to the arts.” But on the other, a good publisher or label is “essential to us as artists,” as it allows for a focus on artistic work while freeing the writer from making business decisions. Labels also shoulder the financial risk involved in making music accessible, he said. Hannu Wager of the World Trade Organization afterward praised the WIPO event, which he said looked at how licensing works, impediments and current complexities. “It got to the core of copyright, how to make it work in the digital environment,” he said, both in terms of how to make service incentives function but also how to facilitate the widest access possible. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Kaitlin Mara may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.William New may be reached at email@example.com."Should WIPO Lead Creation Of A Global Repertoire Database?" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.