Explaining copyright buyouts: CISAC publishes new guidelines for authors societies worldwide

International MUSIC - 01 Jul 2020

There is nothing more sacred to a creator than the right to earn royalties from their work.  Whatever business model they follow, those who make a living from their creative work, who are the backbone of creative industries, depend on this right. It helps them earn a steady income flow over their lifetime.

Today that right is increasingly being challenged by the growing practice of imposed “copyright buyouts”. These are often forced on creators by the large users whose revenues they are driving - broadcasters, videogame producers, TV operators and digital platforms. Instead of a regular earning stream, creators are offered a one-off fee with little freedom to negotiate.

The issue is becoming much more apparent in the streaming world. In today’s “golden age” of subscription on demand video, platforms are using their global strength and bargaining power to try to change the way they work with creators.

Copyright buyouts are an important issue for creators and collective management organisations (CMOs) - and all the more important in the post-Covid-19 crisis. CMOs have a vital role to play advising their members and helping them understand their options.

Up until now there has been a lack of information and educational material about the varying national laws around buyouts and uncertainty about the legal environment globally.

CISAC has now responded by publishing new Guidelines to help collective management organisations assess and address the buyout phenomenon, educate their members and advise and lobby policy makers.

The Guidelines, based on insight from societies and external legal experts, explain what buyouts are, the laws applying in different markets, the implications for creators’ negotiating position and the options available to societies to address the issue.

The Guidelines are timely in the current post-Covid-19 crisis.  The collapse of live and public performance revenues has increased creators’ reliance on SVOD services and broadcasters as users of music and audiovisual works.  It is now all the more important that creators understand their options and are in a fair negotiating position and earning a fair share from the platforms.





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