[REPORT] Property Copyright in the 21st Century

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  • Efficiently compensating creators for the use of their content is a problem that is difficult to solve with “analog methods” in a digitized world.
  • The entities traditionally involved, i.e., collecting societies (CSOs), face frequent criticism from both creators and users.
  • Market entities that commercialize the works of creators, such as streaming services, are also subject to criticism.
  • The state has effectively digitized tax accounting. Consideration should be given to a joint effort by the legislature, the CSOs and private entities to create an efficient, modern system of accounting for creators.

There are no simple, flawless solutions to complex problems. Among such problems is the issue of gratification of creators for the use of their works. This is currently done by the so-called collective management organizations (hereinafter also referred to as CSOs), the best known of which is ZAIKS, acting as intermediaries between the author and the entity using his/her work. At the same time, as a result of the digital revolution, tools have emerged that perform the same function entirely within a commercial relationship without the need for additional intermediary entities – these include streaming services. Both old and new solutions to the problem of realization of economic copyrights face criticism from both creators and users of their works.

In the case of streaming services, insufficient compensation for the use of works is pointed out – people identifying this problem include Paul McCartney and David Byrne, the well-known producer and musician, founder of the cult band Talking Heads. Byrne said in an interview: “The boom in streaming services may be generating profits for record labels and free content for consumers, but it spells disaster for artists in the creative industries.” For this reason, there are proposals that the activities of online platforms or digital media that provide access to these platforms should be additionally taxed, while the revenues should be distributed to authors via traditional CSOs. But at the same time, in the case of the traditional CSOs, among other things, anachronistic, sometimes arbitrary and unclear enforcement methods are pointed out, which impose additional and excessive costs on economic operators. You get the impression that either way is bad. But does there really have to be a conflict between OCS and the world of digital distribution of creative works? The Warsaw Enterprise Institute encourages debate on this subject. We believe that on the basis of new technologies, but also with the participation of the OCSs, it is possible to develop completely new methods of executing author’s economic rights, better adjusted to the challenges of the 21st century. It should also be emphasized that although the digital era poses a distribution challenge (in terms of income for creators of new works, be it music, film, graphics or books) it has brought us an incredible harvest due to lowering costs of both production of new work and its promotion. This is the other side of the coin that should not be forgotten.

The role of this report is to draw attention to the issues of managing copyright and related rights in today’s rapidly evolving technological reality, in the context of the interests of business and users, and to encourage discussion with a view to improving the system currently in place or creating a new system for collecting and accounting for remuneration due to creators.

The postulates that WEI would like to discuss are:

  1. Reform of the system of management of author’s economic rights based on new technologies aiming to automate this process.
  2. Create working teams consisting of representatives of creators, PBOs, online platforms, and government representatives.
  3. Active role of PBOs in the implementation and operation of the new system of management of author’s economic rights.



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