Private Copyright Documentation Systems and Practices: Collective Management Organization's Databases

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Citation: Fraçois Xavier Nuttall (2011) Private Copyright Documentation Systems and Practices: Collective Management Organization's Databases.
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): Private Copyright Documentation Systems and Practices: Collective Management Organization's Databases
Download: cr doc ge 11/pdf/collective.pdf


Describes CMO practices for musical works.

Explains moral and economic rights, latter "form the raison d’être of Collective Rights Management".

"A Musical Work is defined as an abstract Creation which can be expressed and fixed through sound with or without Lyrics" with two sets of metadata:

  • Description of musical work "allows for the identification of the Musical Work. Among other things, this metadata set is used for Search and Discovery services."
  • Rights management metadata "defines the ownership of the Musical Work. It identifies the entity or entities that can grant the licenses and manage the subsequent royalties."


  • Title (primary descriptor)
    • Main title (mandatory) "may theoretically be provided in any language using any character set. To this extent, additional Language Code fields are provided. In reality, all Main Titles are provided in Latin Character set, as to allow full interoperability between different IT systems"
    • Alternate title "Language Code metadata element specifying the language and the character set must accompany the Alternative Title Metadata element."
  • Secondary descriptors "Some of those descriptors are further described in the official ISO Standard for Musical Works (ISO 15707:2001 – ISWC – International Standard Work Code), while others are implemented as part of a Best Practice."
    • Duration
    • Derivation
    • Performer (pertains to performance not work, but "most usages of Musical Works are performances of Musical Works, through its most common manifestation: the Sound Recording" so useful)

Contributors and their Associated Rights "This section is by far the most complex and critical component of Musical Works"

  • Creators
    • Composers
    • Authors
    • Arrangers and Adaptors
  • Other Rights Holders
    • Publishers and sub-Publishers

Description of a Party

  • Name
  • Party identifier
    • "private layer containing sensitive information"
    • "Public layer containing a minimum of disambiguation metadata"
    • Describes several including IPI, IPN, ISNI

Rights management "a number of additional metadata elements are necessary to properly manage the royalties generated by the usage of those works."

  • Resource identifiers (describes ISWC, ISRC)
  • "Class of Repertoire to which a Right is assigned" (lists 13, starting with "Architectural Work" and "Documentary Audio-Visual Work")
  • In conjunction with class, Role (in CISAC domain, lists Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Publisher, Sub-Publisher)
  • "For a given combination of Class and Role, a number of specific Rights are granted to a Creator" which are codified as eg Radio Broadcasting, Television Broadcasting, Mechanical Right
  • Ownership shares (must sum to 100% for given right)
  • Territories (rights/ownership may vary across)
  • Mandates "the Entity through which the rights are licensed and administered"

Business processes

  • Declaration "two-step process: Declaration of the Creators and other Rights holders (together, referred to as Participants or Interested Parties) and the declaration of the Musical Work"
    • "Some CMOs require a physical proof of the existence of the Musical Work such as a recording of it or sheet music. Some CMOs also employ Musicologists who will determine the existence of any plagiarism"
    • "must ensure that each Participant has its own unique IP Number and that each Musical Work has its own ISWC code."
    • Can be streamlined using "Common Works Registration format (CWR) which is mature EDI specification"
  • Licensing
    • Standard licensing "traditional music usage such as Radio or TV broadcasting, usage in bars, pubs and restaurants, live performance, or the creation of recorded media", predetermined rates given info about uses, usually able to provide single license for given territory due to reciprocal agreements, may need other licenses eg for sound recording
    • Central licensing "allows the manufacturer of recorded media, such as CDs or vinyl records, to obtain from a single CMO a license for the Mechanical Rights in all European Countries"
    • "Musical Work License Identifier (MWLI) is a DDEX standard that assigns a unique Identifier to a given License"
    • "To further streamline and automate the licensing process additional efforts are being made by different groups of stakeholders namely the Global Repertoire Database and the International Music Registry" (describes each)
    • Public Domain (describes how work may still be subject to licensing "It is always wise to seek advice from a CMO that will determine the full licensing status of a given Musical Work.")
    • Creative Commons (does not mean using without a license; even CC-BY will be breached without clear attribution)
  • Reporting
    • "Traditionally, licensees provided usage reports either as flat files such as an Excel™ spreadsheet."
    • DDEX suite of B2B XML standards for reporting
    • Event reporting, triggered by uses in multimedia devices and networks
  • Matching "many Collective Rights Organizations reach an auto-matching rate of 80 to 90 % or more"
    • "Unique identifiers are the holy grail of Rights Management systems – when properly implemented."
    • "Authoritative data sources means that the ISRC codes must strictly identify a unique sound recording. It is not infrequent that a given sound recording is identified by more than one ISRC code or worse, that different sound recordings are identified with the same ISRC code."
    • "The main problem remaining is the business process of allocating the ISRC. The only viable solution to guarantee uniqueness to an Identifier is to structure the code around a central registry...has never existed, the Recorded Music sector (ie. the Record Labels) are now working on a new Governance model that will ensure that a Central Registry can be put in place to ensure the uniqueness of ISRC codes."
    • Authoritative matching " A confidence level of 100% means that all string based metadata element match perfectly and that the matching algorithm returned no other possible candidates"
  • Invoicing
    • To overcome complication of changing rights and mandates over time, CMOs use after-the-fact billing
  • Distribution: describes complexity of domestic and international distribution of collections, role of reciprocal agreements
    • "Common Royalty Distribution (CRD) Format. This is an Electronic Data Interchange format designed to facilitate the reporting of distributed royalties for society-to-society and society-to-member applications"

International Systems

  • "CIS-net currently holds more than 42 million Works supplied by 73 Societies around the world. More than 96 Societies use CIS-net as part of their regular business process."

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

Slides further background



It is worth noting that the Attribution of Authorship to an Author may be one of the least enforced Rights. It is very seldom that the Author of a Musical appears in any online Music Service.

On GRD and IMR:

Stakeholder Engagement and Scoping Study... will involve a more precise determination of the functionality inherent in the implementation and management of a GRD for musical works and, more importantly, how it could be governed, financed and owned.
There is currently no single document, catalogue or searchable open database available to the user community, rightsholders or intermediaries (including those representing rightsholders or those aggregating rights on behalf of users) that details the several million musical works that are commercially available across the globe, or the links between them. A comprehensive and up to date database confirming ownership and licensing mandate information for the musical work repertoires is critical to the various players in the industry and would be an asset to the development of the digital music services throughout the world.
The IMR seeks to create an international system that provides a single access point to all the different rights management systems used around the world. An accurate, authoritative, registry of basic information on musical works, sound recordings and music videos is a fundamental, essential public good that supports a healthy framework for digital music licensing.