In September 2021, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) published a new version of its Good Practice Toolkit for Collective Management Organizations (CMO Toolkit). The new edition reflects submissions from WIPO Member States and other stakeholders, including EIFL, during a consultation process in 2021.
CMOs are organizations that manage rights on behalf of authors, performing artists, producers and other rights owners. The CMO with which a library has the most dealings is usually a reproduction rights organization (RRO), that grants licences for the making of copies (photocopying and/or digital copies).
Since CMOs are a de facto monopoly with a dominant position in the marketplace, issues of fairness, good corporate governance and independent oversight by governments are paramount for libraries and other publicly funded cultural heritage institutions.
Well-documented controversies by CMOs risk not only wasting public money used to fund libraries, archives and museums, they also deprive authors and other creators of income.
Issues important to libraries addressed in the updated Toolkit
A range of issues raised by EIFL and partner organizations in the library, archives and museum communities during consultations on the Toolkit are addressed in the updated version. For example, supervision and monitoring of CMOs (Section 13), transparency in revenue distribution (Good practice tool 9), and the role of copyright limitations and exceptions in complementing the licensing of rights (Introduction, Section 1.1.1, Good practice tools 7 and 65).
The Toolkit also contains new recommendations on the provision of information to potential licensees (Good practice tool 63), and the need for evidence to support assertions such as the effect of CMO activities on national economies and cultural diversity (Good practice tool 8). Additionally, there is a handy new glossary of international identifiers (such as ISBN and ISSN), exchange formats and protocols, and industry IT standards to help document and manage the licensed repertoire and revenue distribution (Appendix 1).
'A bridge between rightholders and users'
The updated Toolkit has a new sub-title, ‘A Bridge between Rightholders and Users’, highlighting the fundamental relationship between CMOs and users of copyright-protected content, such as libraries and their patrons.
To complement the new sub-title, EIFL would have liked a high-level statement at the outset on the responsibility of CMOs towards licensees and users, in much the same way as any business has a responsibility towards its customers. A clear recognition of this important responsibility should, in our view, be part of any toolkit setting out good practices for CMOs.
When setting tariffs, we would also have welcomed recognition of the context and nature of licensing by libraries that are typically for education, research and other non-commercial public interest activities, in addition to criteria such as the commercial value of the rights in use.
While it is not a normative document, the WIPO CMO Toolkit is a useful guide for libraries, as well as governments and other stakeholders, seeking to improve the regulation and management of collective management organizations towards a well functioning copyright infrastructure that works for everyone.
The WIPO CMO Toolkit is intended as a guide for governments and other stakeholders to help design an approach for their own infrastructure for collective management, taking into account a country’s particular circumstances.
The updated Toolkit is available on WIPO’s website in seven languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish).
EIFL submitted comments in two public consultations on updating the WIPO CMO Toolkit (2018) with partner organizations, the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA), the International Council of Archives (ICA), the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA).