A fresh view on collective management of copyright
Last Friday, at the Noorderslag Music Festival in Groningen Buma/Stemra (the principal Dutch organization that looks after the interests of composers, song writers and publishers of music in The Netherlands) announced it will start a project to develop more flexible forms of collective rights management.
The project will also consider Creative Commons. The great majority of Dutch composers, writers and publishers of music (over 16,000) are a direct member of Buma/Stemra.
For some time Buma/Stemra has been encountering a problem, which at times comes in the shape of Creative Commons. If a composer, writer or publisher ofm usic decides to become a member of Buma/Stemra his or her intellectual property rights are transferred to Buma/Stemra, which becomes responsible for the exploitation of the copyrights. People or organizations that want to use or multiply the work of the member will have to make a payment directly to Buma/Stemra. Buma/Stemra remits the collected money to its members. The problem is that under this system members lose most of their rights to take care of the distribution of their own works. They cannot decide to distribute some of their works for free. As a result, member of Buma/Stemra cannot use the flexible copyright licenses offered by Creative Commons.
After some debate Buma/Stemra now seems to be determined to solve the problem. The organization has announced the installation of a project group called Flexible Collective Management. The project will also pay attention to Creative Commons. Without doubt, more debate will follow. Buma/Stemra already told the press that the Creative Commons licenses in their current form are not compatible with the interests of music writers that desperately need collective management of copyrights. One notable objection of Buma/Stemra against current CC-licenses is that they are irrevocable. Once an artist has decided to publish a work under a CC-license he cannot at a later moment decide that on second thoughts he wants to have ‘all rights reserved’. To Buma/Stemra another point of debate is the use of CC-licenses that allow commercial use.
No doubt to be continued.