Public Interest in Collective Licensing #iaspm2017

Richard Osborne, University of Middlesex (UK)

‘Where is the Public Interest in Collective Licensing?’

Queen Anne

Queen Anne. Not even the implementation of a groundbreaking copyright act during her reign could cheer her up.

ABSTRACT: In 1841, Lord Macaulay argued that copyright ‘produces all the effects which … mankind attributes to monopoly … to make articles scarce, to make them dear, and to make them bad’. Popular music has witnessed the reverse. The music industries’ most obvious monopolies are the collection societies. Collective licensing makes music abundant (blanket licence schemes, in particular, provide unfettered access to music) and it prices it democratically (all music costs the same). Collective licensing has shaped our musical environments. It is the reason why, in theory, any song can be broadcast or played in public premises. It is being weakened. Artists, labels and publishers are withdrawing from licensing schemes for streaming. Entrepreneurs are proposing blockchain systems that will do away with the need for collection societies. It is licensors and licensees who have dominated narratives about collective licensing. Questions of ‘public’ interest have been focused on how much businesses should pay and how much creators should receive. It is the argument of this paper that music consumers need to enter these debates. If collective licensing is eroded then music will become more expensive and scarce.

Richard’s favourite form of music, he says, is blanket licensing! He intends to advocate, today, for the needs of the public. Are [copyright] monopolies always inherently ‘evil’?

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IASPM 2014: The condititions of musical creativity and diversity

John Street, Dave Laing & Simone Schroff, University of East Anglia

STIM are looking out for european songwriters’ income (but giving 12% of it to other songwriters). A good thing for culture?

CREATe Panel on ‘Music & Copyright’

ABSTRACT: The recently adopted European Directive on collective management organisations and online crossborder music licensing is the first pan-European legislation to regulate the activities of national authors’ societies, the voluntary bodies that collect royalties from broadcasters, online services and promoters, and distribute the money to songwriters and publishers. It also marks the end of an era when these societies enjoyed national monopolies on such activities by granting blanket licences, and were able to give additional support to music making in even the smallest European countries.

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IASPM day 2 – Creativity, Competition and the Collecting Societies

PRSCreativity, Competition and the Collecting Societies. John Street (University of East Anglia, UK)
Why do democratic states regulate music? What values do they hope to realise? Many different answers are given (‘diversity’, ‘excellence’, ‘innovation’, etc.), but typically the assumption is that music is, in some way, ‘special’, both in resepect of other market goods and even in respect of other cultural goods. This paper explores the politics of the regulation of markets in music, first by considering the claim to ‘specialness’, and then by considering how the link between creativity and competition has been imagined in policy and in practice. The paper ends by focusing on key actors in the market in music – the collecting societies. These bodies, central to the realisation of income in the digital economy, have been largely overlooked, and yet they are crucial players in determining the interplay of competition and creativity. They help shape the market in politically and culturally significant ways, and so determine the values.

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