Growing Call For Transparency Within African CMOs To Ensure Membership Confidence 16/08/2016 by Hillary Muheebwa for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment 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)KAMPALA, Uganda — Collective management organisations (CMOs) in African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) member states, and Africa at large, have the potential to contribute to the growth and development of creative industries. However, they need to be supported, guided and supervised to ensure that they achieve the purpose for which they are established. This is one of the observations made in a survey report titled, ‘Survey on the status of Collective Management Organizations in ARIPO Member States’. The report is the first survey on the status of CMOs in the ARIPO member states since copyright and related rights were added to the mandate of ARIPO in 2002. The survey was started in June 2014, and the results were officially released in June 2016. “Support could come in the form of resources, especially at the initial stages of establishment, awareness creation about collective management, influencing policy decision like the use of local content by broadcasters and capacity building for the staff and boards of CMOs,” explained Keitseng Nkah Monyatsi, the author of the report, in an email exchange. Monyatsi is the copyright administrator, Companies and Intellectual Property Authority, Botswana. “Guidance is required because the majority of rights holders in Africa do not necessarily possess business skills such that they are able to exercise their powers with the view to make the best business decisions for their CMOs. Governments need to guide members of CMOs to play their role to the best they can,” Monyatsi said. “Supervision becomes necessary to ensure that management and boards of CMOs remain committed to the objects of the CMO for the benefits of the rights holders and the creative industries at large. When properly managed, CMOs in Africa can improve the socio-economic statuses of copyright owners,” Monyatsi added. “CMOs have grown in importance globally in their work of collectively administering the mandates from the right holders by negotiating royalties, collecting royalties from users and distributing the royalties to the right holders,” ARIPO Director General Fernando dos Santos wrote in the foreword of the report. “In the African context, though a number of CMOs have been operational, there is little information available on their operations and understanding the impact of their work,”dos Santos added. “It was within this context that ARIPO undertook this survey to have an understanding of what is happening at grass roots level in so far as the administration of CMOs is concerned and to gather information on the relevance of CMOs in promoting and protecting the works of right holders within the ARIPO Member States.” According to the report, “current copyright laws of ARIPO member states were enacted between 1989 and 2009.” As a result, the laws may not incorporate in some of the latest treaties and protocols enacted and signed at regional and global level. Whilst in practice it does not make much of a difference, the report observes that the majority of ARIPO member states copyright laws use ‘neighbouring rights’ and none makes reference to ‘related rights’. On the other hand, ARIPO itself uses the term ‘related rights’ instead.” Fit for Purpose? There is also a question of whether CMOs are doing the job for which they were designed. According to Monyatsi, “It was surprising to observe that comparatively, CMOs in the reprography seem to struggle to finally stand on their feet. The fact that most of them take a long time to license, collect and distribute royalties should be an issue of concern, mainly because it means the rights holders are losing out.” It takes about 5 years for a CMO in the music field to finally collect royalties. It was also observed that when royalty collection has begun, there is no waiting time to start distributing in a few instances the waiting period is shorter than the waiting period for royalty collection. This information can be used to manage expectations of rights holders in newly established CMOs. Further, CMOs and national copyright offices can use this as a benchmark to measure progress in their CMOs, and mitigate potential hindrances. There is a growing call for transparency within the CMOs in order to ensure that users continue to have confidence in CMOs in Africa. CMOs deal with royalties that belong to rights holders.Therefore, it becomes crucial for them to be trusted by their members and other stakeholders. Transparency is measured by the type, level and ease of access to information that is availed to internal and external stakeholders, and at times the public at large. For CMOs, the information they avail to their members and the public is an important element in their existence. Some of the CMOs, according to Monyatsi, do not avail some information about themselves, like annual reports, on their own websites. According to Charles Batambuze, executive director of URRO, one of the 3 CMOs in Uganda, “only Uganda Performing Rights Society (UPRS) is at the moment collecting fees and distributing royalties to its members. Uganda Reproductive Rights Organisation (URRO) hopes to have some license agreements signed before end of 2016.” “User licenses that authorise reproductions of works for example at universities are a new concept and it takes long for the decision makers to appreciate why they need to take up one because of the system of voluntary licensing. Our rights holders have to wait a bit longer for them to begin reaping from the economic right of reproduction,” Batambuze added. Some of the other noted challenges faced by CMOs include:users’ unwillingness to pay royalties, lack of awareness of copyright laws by users and general public, piracy, licensing educational institutions for RROs, collaboration and partnership with other stakeholders within and outside the country, and availability of technologies that can be used by CMOs. “I hope ARIPO would use this report as a baseline which can inform the evaluation of progress in collective management of rights. And as an advocacy tool to encourage member states to support CMOs in view of their potential,” said Monyatsi. “Given the growing global nature of trade and use of works in the copyright and related rights industries, it calls for the CMOs to sign reciprocal agreements so that the right holders can benefit when their works are used in other markets outside their home countries,” said dos Santos. “This call is of utmost importance for CMOs within and outside the ARIPO bloc.” Image Credits: ARIPO 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 Hillary Muheebwa may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Growing Call For Transparency Within African CMOs To Ensure Membership Confidence" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.