WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) recently sponsored a workshop to introduce the use of their exclusive software application in consonance with sound copyright protection practices.
With the participation of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines and Vietnam, the workshop aims to create a common database that will facilitate a smooth collection and distribution of royalties.
Since this database will contain the information of stakeholders such as the performing artists, composers and even producers, the burden would be on the data gathering. Items like details of the work are required to be inputted.
Participants to the WIPOCOS workshop from left: Ong Peng Chu of Malaysia, Sherub Gyaltshen of Bhutan, Fadiel Adhitya Wardhana of Indonesia, John Lesaca of the Philippines, Manzurur Rahman of Bangladesh, Djanuar Ishak of Indonesia, Alex Socorro of the Philippines, Aphivath Sombounkhanh of Lao PDR.
So a music album would need not only the name of the featured artist but also his address, date of birth and even his beneficiary in case of death. For the work itself, things like label, where the songs were recorded and duration, should be indicated.
In fairness to WIPOCOS—the software that would process this data-base—it has a facility for easy monitoring of potential royalties. The distribution system of remunerating the stakeholders is quite complicated but with good and reasonable basis.
Simon Ouedraogo is the chief architect of WIPOCOS. He said that there were only 5 of them in the technical team because the bulk of develop-mental work was outsourced to Indian programmers.
Boukary Sawadogo of Burkina Faso, Africa, giving an explanation to Cambodians Sarady Sin and Yothin Chhay.
Ouedraogo admitted that the software is currently undergoing minor modifications from time to time. In the near future, cloud computing will be harnessed. He is to attend a meeting with Google before the end of November, 2011.
The ultimate objective of cloud computing is to provide linkage among the national databases of participating countries. If it works out, copyright holders can also collect royalties from foreign countries that are using their works.
WIPO consultant Romen Dube of Malawi provides assistance to Manzur Rahman of Bangladesh and Sherub Gyaltshen of Bhutan. Next to him is Yeshi Lhamo also of Bhutan.
Boukary Sawadogo, the WIPO’s automation expert, also acted as instructor and trainer in the workshop while Romen Dube was the proctor. Their capacity to answer questions made the hands-on sessions a little less difficult for the 17 participants.
Saemund Fiskvik of Norcode (Norwegian Copyright Development Association) spoke at length about the setup of a CMO (Collective Management Organization). This CMO is the collecting agent of performers regarding royalties.
A souvenir shot with Saemund Fiskvik of Norcode. From left: Nguyen Duc Thang and To Van Long of Vietnam, Jean Teoh of Malaysia.
For Fiskvik, his idea of a fair share is that of equal distribution among band/group members. He cited Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones of their equal sharing of the collected royalties as per the record.
Distribution is a major issue. Aside from the featured artist, there are other beneficiaries like the producer, session musicians, authors and producers. There is no equal sharing among these beneficiaries.
The collection is another point taken up by Ang Kwee Tiang, regional head of CISAC (Asia-Pacific International Confederation of Societies of Authors and. Composer). He said that establishing a collection system involves time and money.
Ang Kwee Tiang advises new CMOs to get help from existing groups in order to gain strength by way of influence and reputation. CISAC and NORCODE are big names in the playing fields, and of course the WIPO.
Tiang emphasized the difficulty of the collection system that it is understandable to spend more than what is being collected in the first few years. The largest slice of expenditures would go to the legal team.
The resource speaker from left: Saemund Fiskvik of Norway, Candra Darusman of WIPO Singapore, Ang Kwee Tiang of CISAC, Simon Ouedraogo of WIPOCOS team.
The implementation of WIPOCOS would be needing a thorough study of the collection and distribution system. When money is involved, it is natural for the members to have doubts on the accuracy of the figures unless there is a good auditing method.
After the collection, the sharing scheme should have already been defined so there would be no room for complaints on the part of the shareholders. In practice, half of the royalties goes to the producer and the rest is divided among the artists and musicians.
WIPO did not commit on the WIPOCOS software although it is assumed that it would be given free to CMOs of the participating countries. This is to provide encouragement in the protection of the copyright holders.
A CMO cannot function without resources. It has to have a decent office and competent staff. The members should be substantial in number and participation. How would a CMO gain prestige when its members are all unknown?
Maintenance and updating of records pose a problem but a greater problem is the failure of stakeholders to provide accurate information. Especially the old works, there are copyright holders who don’t even remember the details of their work.
Another consideration taken up is the legislation. Government should help the CMO by legislating strong laws in forcing the users of work to pay. Radio stations, television, other public venues that include websites are examples of users.
In summary, the WIPOCOS software can make the job simpler for the CMO. It can also serve as inspiration for CMO’s to pursue their objective and implement what needs to be implemented for the cause of copyright protection.
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