Since the 18th century, Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) have existed to protect the rights of authors and ensure their works are used in accordance with governing laws. These entities are almost exclusively membership governed, not-for-profit organisations whose task is to administer and manage authors’ rights throughout the world.
The existence of CMOs allows authors to focus on their art and create works in all the different repertoires – music, dramatic, literary, visual arts and audiovisual – knowing that their royalties will be collected on their behalf. In most countries, each repertoire is administered by a single society. However, in a small number of countries, more than one CMO administers the same type of repertoire and, in others, a single CMO manages multiple repertoires.
CMOs provide essential functions including:
• Licensing of users for the use of the works according (in most cases) to standardised and published tariffs and conditions;
• Collection of royalties and their distribution to authors and publishers;
• Advocacy in favour of the effective protection of authors’ rights. Such action is undertaken at national, regional or international forums;
• Social and cultural activities to promote authors’ interests and safeguard their well-being.
A CMO provides a licensing and rights management platform between rights holders and users or licensees. This mechanism minimises the costs for licensees of identifying the rights holders of the works they want to use and enable them to access the worldwide repertoires through recognised hubs that can deliver comprehensive licences. A CMO also reduces costs and allows for economies of scale for creators by providing a standardised and consistent approach to negotiating agreements with users, collecting revenues on behalf of all authors it represents and distributing royalties according to fair and non-discriminatory rules approved by the authors themselves.
The framework for licensing and collections can be complex with the value and exercise of rights varying country by country, depending on local laws and regulations. CMOs usually enter into a series of representation agreements, either unilateral or bilateral, with CMOs in other countries, often called “sister societies”, which enable the rights of one country’s author to be protected and remunerated in another country.
CMOs are equipped and positioned to negotiate licensing deals on behalf of their own local members, as well as foreign authors affiliated to their sister societies, providing significant collective bargaining power and empowering CMOs to add value to a licensee by offering ‘blanket’ licenses. These blanket licenses enable the licensee to use creative works with the assurance that the CMO will conveniently handle the distribution of collected licensing fees to the relevant rights holders. In parallel, the CMO also monitors the use of protected repertoire within its own market for all types of use and protects authors against the unlicensed use of their works.
Finally, CMOs engage in lobbying initiatives with government bodies to ensure that copyright laws on a national and pan-national basis protect the rights of authors. CISAC supports the lobbying efforts of local societies as well as coordinates global efforts to make sure authors worldwide receive fair remuneration for their creation.