Collective Management of Copyright and Related Rights

Collective management is the exercise of copyright and related rights by organizations acting in the interest and on behalf of the owners of rights.

The creator of a work has the right to allow or to prohibit the use of his works. A playwright can consent to his work being performed on stage under certain agreed conditions. A writer can negotiate a contract with a publisher for the publication and distribution of a book. And a musician can agree to have performance recorded on compact disc. These examples illustrate how the owners of the rights can exercise their rights in person.

But individual management of rights is practically impossible for certain types of use. An author cannot contact every single radio or television station to negotiate licenses and remuneration for the use of his works. Conversely, it is not practical for a broadcasting organization to seek specific permission from every author for the use of every copyrighted work. The impracticability of managing these activities individually - both for the owner of rights and for the user - creates a need for collective management organizations (CMOs). These organizations ensure that creators receive payment for the use of their works.

Watch this introductory video to learn more about the collective management of copyright and collective management organizations (CMOs).


WIPOCOS is an IT system for CMOs to facilitate the collective management of copyrights.

CMO membership

Membership of Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) is open to all owners of copyright and related rights, whether authors, composers, publishers, writers, photographers, musicians, or performers. Broadcasting organizations are not included in the list, as they are considered users, even though they have certain rights in their broadcasts.

On joining the CMO, members provide some personal particulars and declare the works that they have created. The information provided forms part of the documentation of the CMO that allows the link between the use of works and payment for the use of works to be made to the correct owner of the rights. The works declared by the organization's members constitute what is known as the "national" or "local" repertoire (as opposed to the international repertoire which is made up of the foreign works managed by CMOs in the world).

Rights under collective management

CMOs most commonly take care of the following rights:

  • The right of public performance (music played or performed in discotheques, restaurants, and other public places);
  • The right of broadcasting (live and recorded performances on radio and television);
  • The mechanical reproduction rights in musical works (the reproduction of works in CDs, tapes, vinyl records, cassettes, mini-discs, or other forms of recordings);
  • The performing rights in dramatic works (theater plays);
  • The right of reprographic reproduction of literary and musical works (photocopying);
  • Related rights (the rights of performers and producers of phonograms to obtain remuneration for broadcasting or the communication to the public of phonograms).

How collective management works

There are various kinds of CMOs or groups of such organizations, depending on the category of works involved (music, dramatic works, "multimedia" productions, etc.) that will collectively manage different kinds of right.

"Traditional" CMOs

"Traditional" CMOs acting on behalf of their members, negotiate rates and terms of use with users, issue licenses authorizing uses, collect and distribute royalties. The individual owner of rights does not become directly involved in any of these steps.


"One-stop-shops" are a sort of coalition of separate CMOs which offer users a centralized sources where authorizations can be easily and quickly obtained. There is a growing tendency to set up such organizations on account of growing popularity of "multimedia" productions (productions composed of, or created from, several types of work, including computer software) which require a wide variety of authorizations.

Rights clearance centers

Rights clearance centers grant licenses to users that reflect the conditions for the use of works and the remuneration terms set by each individual holder of rights who is a member of the center (in the field of reprography, for instance, authors of written works such as books, magazines and periodicals).

Here the center acts as an agent for the owner of the rights who remains directly involved in setting the terms of use of his works.

Collective management by field

Musical works

In the field of musical works (encompassing all types of music, modern, jazz, classical, symphonic, blues and pop whether instrumental or vocal), documentation, licensing and distribution are the three pillars on which the collective management of the rights of public performance and broadcasting is based.

The CMO negotiates with users (such as radio stations, broadcasters, discotheques, cinemas, restaurants and the like), or groups of users and authorizes them to use copyrighted works from its repertoire against payment and on certain conditions.

On the basis of its documentation (information on members and their works) and the programs submitted by users (for instance, logs of music played on the radio), the collective management organization distributes copyright royalties to its members according to established distribution rules.

A fee to cover administrative costs, and in certain countries also socio-cultural promotion activities, is generally deducted from the copyright royalties. The fees actually paid to the copyright owners correspond to the use of the works and are accompanied by a breakdown of that use.

Dramatic works

In the field of dramatic works (which includes scripts, screenplays, mime shows, ballets, theater plays, operas and musicals), the practice of collective management is rather different in that the CMO acts as an agent representing authors.  

It negotiates a general contract with the organizations representing theaters in which the minimum terms are specified for the exploitation of particular works.

The performance of each play then requires further authorization from the author, which takes the form of an individual contract setting out the author's specific conditions.

The CMO then announces that permission has been given by the author concerned and collects the corresponding remuneration.

Printed works

In the field of printed works (meaning books, magazines, and other periodicals, newspapers, reports and the lyrics of songs), collective management mainly involves the grant of the right of reprographic reproduction, in other words allowing protected material to be photocopied by institutions such as libraries, public organizations, universities, schools and consumer associations.  

Non-voluntary licensing arrangements, when allowed by international conventions, can be written into national legislation; in such cases, a right of use against remuneration is accorded that does not require the consent of the owner of rights. CMOs administer the remuneration.

In the special case of reproduction for private and personal use, some national legislation contains specific provision for equitable remuneration payable to the owners of rights and funded by a levy imposed on equipment or photocopies or both.

Related rights

In the field of related rights, the national legislation of some countries provide for a right of remuneration payable to performers or producers of phonograms or both when commercial sound recordings are communicated to the public or used for broadcasting.  

The fees for such uses are collected and distributed either by joint organizations set up by performers and producers of phonograms or separate ones, depending on the relation of those involved and the legal situation within the country.

Good Practice Toolkit for CMOs

The WIPO Good Practice Toolkit for Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) brings together examples of legislation, regulation and codes of conduct in the area of collective management from around the world.

The Toolkit is a working document that will continue to be improved. Member states and other stakeholders may use relevant parts of the document to help them design an approach suitable for their particular context. 



Note - The Toolkit is not a normative document
(Image: Getty Images/nuiiun)


As the management of copyright and related rights has become more important, so has the need for top-quality information to help all interested stakeholders understand these rights. WIPO offers a comprehensive set of resources that covers those areas where collective management is customarily applied.

Educational series

Other toolkits

Our toolkits offer a practical approach to the collective management of copyright and related rights.

Introductory material

Economics of Collective Management of Copyright and Related Rights

An introduction to the economic theory surrounding collective management of copyright