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WIPO Director General Announces Rights Registry Project for West African States

Brussels, June 8, 2011

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry today announced a project to build a common digital platform which will help streamline the identification of protected musical works across 11 West African countries, helping creators from these countries get paid for their work through a simplified and standardized rights registration system. U.S. firm Google will be WIPO’s technology partner in developing this new web-based system, which builds upon WIPOCOS (WIPO Software for Collective Management of Copyright and Related Rights).

A project using WIPOCOS to build more efficient copyright infrastructures in developing countries was approved by WIPO member states as part of the Organization’s Development Agenda. WIPOCOS will help collecting management organizations in the participating countries share information on the identification of works and relevant interested parties, making cross border licensing easier. The 11 countries involved in the current phase of the project are Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.

“The current data management process for registering works is complicated,” said Mr. Gurry. “The improved WIPOCOS rights registry will streamline that process – it will store information online and make it accessible from each participating country. This means that a right holder will only have to register a work once to have the information stored across the 11 countries.” Mr. Gurry announced the project during a keynote presentation at the third World Copyright Summit, organized by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) in Brussels.

Mrs. Diabe Siby, Director General of BSDA (Senegal’s Copyright Office) and Chairperson of a network of West African collecting societies called the West African Network, said the project “has the potential to enable developing countries to participate more fully and effectively in the benefits of the global music industry.”

"We are pleased to be able to contribute to this effort, because we have a keen interest in making it easier for creators and performers to be remunerated for their works and in enabling new innovative content services to emerge online," said Mr. Carlo d'Asaro Biondo, Google Vice President Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa. "Google has a history of working with public institutions like WIPO to build technology solutions; we will continue to build these partnerships to benefit creators, consumers and the public-at-large." 

The WIPOCOS system will enable streamlining of administrative costs relating to collective rights management, making the reporting of usage for royalty allocation less expensive and more efficient. Connecting these 11 societies to the rest of the world through this initiative will make rights information about West African music more accessible to other societies worldwide.  WIPOCOS will link together information about the creator, his works and related metadata so that use of the music by licensees can be properly accounted for. 


Creators work through organizations called “collecting societies” to license certain types of uses, like playing music by radio or television broadcasting organizations or using a song on a soundtrack, or through an on-demand streaming service on the Internet. These societies are responsible for collecting and disbursing revenue within a given territory.

At present, WIPOCOS is a software application developed and supported by WIPO in a number of developing countries. In the 11West African countries in question, rights holders currently have to register their rights in each of the countries, meaning greater administrative costs and a difficult search for a radio producer or film director who wants to license a piece of African music. The upgraded and improved WIPOCOS system will interconnect these individual systems, which allows efficiencies that are impossible when the systems are separate - for example, should the rights holders and societies that use WIPOCOS agree, a rights holder could register in any one of the participating countries and that information would flow through to all the other 10 countries.

This will make it simpler to license music across the set of countries and will reduce costs for creators. It will immediately benefit creators and rights holders, who will be more easily identified by people wanting to license their works. It will also help music licensing bodies, such as radio stations, streaming services and others, who want to include African music in their offerings. Consumers will benefit by having greater access to this music as a result.

WIPO will administer the international system that interconnects the rights holders that participate in it, but the participating CMOs will retain ownership of the data. Participation in the system will be voluntary.

For more information, please contact the News and Media Division at WIPO:
  • Tel: (+41 22) 338 81 61 / 338 72 24
  • E-mail