Digital Rights Management: The End of Collecting Societies - PDF (Downloadable Electronic Product)
DRMS Do Not Replace Collecting Societies
Digital Rights Management Systems (DRMS) are generally described as tools
which allow a relatively secure on-line transmission of copyright protected
material (works and performances). Collecting societies, on the other hand, do
not themselves exploit rights but rather grant licenses to users and ensure that
right owners receive fair remuneration for the use of their works. In that sense,
it could be submitted that collecting societies do not need, as a rule, DRMS.
Collecting societies have however developed what may be called Copyright
Management Systems (CMS). CMS are not designed for digital or on-line
transmission of works, but for digital and/or on-line transmission of
information which is essential for the management of rights in these works.
Since 1976 collecting societies have been using such digital systems for the
purpose of exchange of information and accounting to their right owners.
Their corresponding umbrella organisation, CISAC (Confédération
Internationale des Sociétés d’Auteurs et Compositeurs)1 decided in 1994 to
create a Common Information System allowing the management and
exchange of data which is necessary for accounting billions of on-line works
uses to millions of right owners in the Internet age. The latter system is, of
course, a work in progress, as is the use of the Internet itself. To put things
into perspective, it could be said that if DRMS are the front-end (consumer –
provider), CMS can be described as the back-office (collecting societies –
right owners) of rights management.
A characteristic feature of DRMS is that they allow commercial on-line
distribution of works. The commercial on-line exploitation may well favour
professional structures in the Internet which – at least as music transmissions
are concerned – can still be regarded as chaotic. DRMS and CMS may also
interface in a not too distant future. Both these technologies would facilitate
the management of rights, whether individual or by collecting societies.
Alfred Meyer, born in 1945 of Swiss nationality, studied law at the University of Zurich,
where he passed his doctorate. He was then admitted to the Zurich bar and worked as a
lawyer until 1979. After joining SUISA – the Swiss society for the rights of authors of
musical works – in 1980, he was responsible for the licensing of all kinds of music uses
in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Alfred Meyer was appointed chief executive of
SUISA in 1997.