From Cannes to Brussels. Progress made on the IMR Initiative
The growth of the Internet as a delivery mechanism for music over the last decade has challenged the music rights management architecture. The need to make it faster, easier, and simpler to find who owns what rights in music has become increasingly important, not just in the developed countries, but throughout the world. This points to the need for an international system that ‘ties together’ the different rights-management systems currently in use in different countries. An accurate, authoritative, registry of information about musical works is an essential public good that will support a healthy ecosystem for digital music. Creating this International Music Registry, through a stakeholder-driven process, is our mission.
The draft Basic Principles agreed at the Cannes IMR meeting in January 2011 embody the efficiency and practical orientation of the IMR but also reflect the vital importance of transparency, openness and non discrimination in its services and operations. The Basic Principles have provided the foundation for the work of participants in the IMR process. Discussions of key issues such as the centralized or distributive nature of the registry, discussion of what information would be confidential and what accessible to third parties and general questions of openness continue. These discussions held on the IMR mailing lists and other virtual environments continued at the third face-to-face meeting of the rightsholders’ Consultative Committee on 9th of June held in Brussels.
The main focus of the IMR between the meetings in Cannes and Brussels was a follow-up. The WIPO Secretariat has assumed a greater role in the implementation of the decisions taken in the two meetings and is facilitating further dialogue in the development of the IMR. This includes:
- Launch and continuing development of the IMR website, mailing lists and other electronic tools and virtual environments for exchange of information and preparation of information materials;.
- Development of background material on different aspects of the role of WIPO in areas such as registration, data management and dispute resolution. These documents are available on the IMR website under WIPO Background Materials;
- Increasing contact with key players in the music industry, including the Société des auteurs, compositeurs et Oditeurs de musique (SACEM), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIIA) and LATINAUTOR, as well as users such as the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and GSM Forum. Other relevant meetings involved key figures in the stakeholder communities such as the Performing Right Society (PRS), EMI Music Publishing and the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC).
At present, the main work in the IMR is centered on three main areas:
- Preparatory work for the stakeholder driven process of defining the services that the IMR will provide. Rightsholders have resolved upon seven sectors, which will meet in teams known as Sector Feature Teams (SFTs) convened from amongst the different communities on a basis of inclusiveness and diversity. Engaging stakeholders in structured discussions helps ensure that the IMR will be ‘demand driven’ with respect to the services and features it provides. In addition to defining the features of the IMR, the SFTs will also identify the needs for cross-sectoral sharing of information, review areas where disputes about rights ownership are common with a view to defining lightweight, affordable dispute resolution processes. Finally, the technical communities of each sector will be engaged to ensure that best practices in data interchange and existing data sharing arrangements are utilized to the full instead of ‘recreating the wheel’. The structure of these teams and their remit will be the subject of discussions at the Brussels meeting.
- Governance structure and financial models for the maintenance and administration of the IMR. At the Cannes meeting, subcommittees agreed to tackle these two subjects and WIPO was requested to work with stakeholders to develop initial proposals in each area. In the financing area, a first draft analysis illustrating various possible scenarios for financing the operations of the IMR is being prepared and will be presented to the stakeholders for review. With regard to governance, a compilation of multi-stakeholder initiatives between the United Nations (UN) and other stakeholders has been compiled and is being examined, after which options of various governance models based upon successful proven models will be prepared and also provided for stakeholder review and discussion. For further information please see the report of the IMR chair on the progress on financing, including questions to consider.
- Strategy, Communications and Outreach: At the Cannes meeting, the Secretariat and IMR chair were asked to reach out to licensee communities so that they could begin to participate in the IMR process to ensure that it will meet the needs of the entire value chain. This process is about to reach the next step, with communications being sent by WIPO to a number of institutions, trade associations, companies and other stakeholders. These, then, will be invited to form a Consultative Committee for the licensee and user community and following from that define the sectors which will subsequently meet in Sector Feature Teams to define the services of the “demand side” of the music value chain.
The third face-to-face meeting of the Consultative Committee was held in Brussels on June 9, 2011. The meeting gave members an opportunity to assess progress made so far and further the development of the IMR in such key areas such as the Basic Principles, SFT, finance and governance.