Conference on the Collective Management of Copyright and Related Rights in Europe

Brussels, November 24 and 25, 2008

Opening speech (extract)

Francis Gurry, Director General, WIPO

The world of collective management is facing some extraordinary challenges at the moment, challenges which have economic, cultural, technological, and, of course, legal implications. WIPO’s role is to maintain and develop in a balanced manner the international normative framework and to see what we can do as an international organization to ensure the effective implementation of that international normative framework. As you all know extremely well, collective management, depending on the situation and the circumstances, is one of the most tried and tested tools for assisting in the effective implementation of copyright and related rights or neighboring rights.

Collective management is the best option that we know for returning value to creators and WIPO has an important role in supporting this tool, especially with respect to the developing countries. Collective management also plays a very important role in developing the global infrastructure for the creative industries and for creators around the world. 

Over the course of the next few days at this conference you will have the opportunity to discuss many aspects of the challenges that are confronting the world of collective management today. Through the presentations that will be made by participating experts, I hope you will develop some specific recommendations and try to identify some specific trends which can assist WIPO, amongst others, in its role in supporting collective management as an important element of infrastructure around the world.

Some of the issues that you will be discussing and which need to find their way on to the international agenda are: the role of digital right management technologies in supporting the creation of new business models and collective management rights, the issue of interoperability, digital broadcasting and non-interactive streaming services, (such as simulcasting, webcasting, IPTV), interactive online and mobile services, user-generated content and social collaboration platforms, good governance (dare I say, accountability) of collective management organizations, double taxation of royalties, and many other issues. These are essential topics for this conference. And just to catalogue them gives an illustration of the richness and the diversity of the menu set before us all in the world of intellectual property and, more particularly, in the world of copyright and related rights. On top of this, there is an important European discussion under way concerning collective management. While this is a regional debate and does not directly concern us as an international organization, it does have financial implications for the rest of the world and so we are all following this with the greatest of interest.

In the coming months WIPO member States will be considering a new Program and Budget for the Organization in 2009. I wish to assure you that copyright and related rights remain high on the agenda of WIPO. In particular, our work with respect to collective management and the support services that we seek to provide, in association with collective management societies, particularly in the developing world, will feature prominently in the new Program and Budget for the year 2009.

Let me say that one of the new strategic orientations of the Organization in the coming years will be the question of global intellectual property infrastructure. Within this context the role of collective management, as I have already indicated, is extremely important. This will be another focus of our program in the coming years.