World Intellectual Property Organization

The International Music Registry (IMR)

Growth of the Internet as the delivery mechanism for music over the last decade has challenged the music rights management architecture. We need to make it faster, easier, and simpler for those who want to use music for legal services to find out who owns what rights in music - and not just in the developed world, 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.

As a reliable source of information on the different rights in different territories, an International Music Registry (IMR) would be instrumental for the development of a healthy and balanced digital market for creative content.The IMR would help right owners market their creations, and help users to rapidly locate and pay for the content they wish to use. The appeal of piracy and unauthorized use will be reduced across the value-chain. This information tool will facilitate all types of business models as long as they are based on content that can be accurately identified and thus accessed and remunerated in a secure and fast way. Participation in the IMR would be voluntary, consistent with the Berne Convention’s rules against mandatory copyright formalities. A voluntary registry established in partnership with WIPO would be an example of how creators can organize themselves to serve their own economic interests.

WIPO is clearly the best place to establish and operate the IMR.

Both development and administration of the IMR will be organized in close association with right owners. Governance models will reflect the control of right owners over data relating to their content and the voluntary character of the registry.

WIPO has very good experience in providing services in the field of IP registration, such as for the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), involving the management of large quantities of data, meeting strict deadlines, using multiple languages and a great emphasis on confidentiality of commercially valuable information.

Any controversy regarding accuracy in data registration could be dealt with expeditiously by a dispute resolution service that WIPO can develop specifically for this initiative. The Arbitration and Mediation Center in WIPO has a record of success in developing and running dispute resolution mechanisms specifically tailored for different sectors and needs, such as in the field of domain names. The resolution of controversies could take place electronically, thus providing a fast and reliable solution to disputes as they arise.

Universality, neutrality, reliability and efficiency are defining features of WIPO’s experience in the field of IP registration.

As a first step, WIPO is facilitating a dialogue among stakeholders in the music sector, with a view to defining the purpose, scope and main features of the future IMR. 

The result of the Stakeholder Dialogue will lead to a more transparent, inclusive architecture that operates for the benefit of all stakeholders. According to the Director General of WIPO, Dr. Francis Gurry, the International Music Registry (IMR): "would need to be a global public asset, based on voluntary participation and available to all as a basis for operating or building business models for the management or exploitation of rights."

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