The market for literary and artistic works has always been complex because of the way, of necessity, author’s rights function. A single cultural product such as a music CD can involve the different author’s rights of numerous creative contributors and many of these rights will be exercised on behalf of different parties in different territories around the world.
Modern technology and the internet have simply increased this complexity exponentially. The BBC for example, uses almost 60,000 items of music every week – and broadcasts all over the world. The challenge for authors in managing the rights in their works is enormous and constantly growing. But the challenge is also there for the users of the works.
For an individual author, certain uses of their work were always unmanageable: how could an individual composer track the performance their works as they occurred in concert halls and night clubs within a single city, let alone an entire country.
The Collective Solution
Today it is virtually impossible for an author to manage any of the rights in their works on a global basis. Simply monitoring the multitude of uses, users, languages, time zones and different distribution channels by which their works are exploited is a task which cannot be undertaken by individual authors.
For the law-abiding users of creative works, a comparable challenge exists. Identifying the correct holder of the author’s rights (who is not necessarily the original author) and making individual royalty payments every time they use a work could be a overly-complex process. This complexity is even further compounded in activities such as film making where several authors from different creative disciplines are contributing to the finished piece. Clearing rights is an activity that for authors and users alike should not interfere with the process of creating works on the one hand and exploiting them on the other.
This is where and why collective rights management is so important.
The only workable solution that individual creators and users have is for artists to unite into societies and administer their rights collectively. This is not a new concept but it is necessary and standard practice today.