The workshop for the WIPOCOS software of the World Intellectual Property Organization, which was held in WIPO Singapore from November 21 to 25, 2011, was attended by representatives from nine South Asian countries.
Intended for the CMOs (Collective Management Organizations) of the 9 participating countries, the technical workshop provided a brief walk-thru of the WIPO’s computerized application. The sessions were decorated with lectures about copyright protection.
WIPOCOS (WIPO Software for Collective Management of Copyright and Related Rights) will provide the facility for ease of managing the collected royalties including the distribution to the members.
The WIPO office is situated in an exclusive area for international institutes and non-government organizations. The place is scenic with its hilly terrain.
WIPO Consultant Romen Dube from Malawi (center, front row) flanked by Vietnam’s Nguyen Duc Thang at left and Indonesia’s Fadiel Wardhana. Standing from left are Vietnamese To Van Long, Bangladeshi Manzurur Rahman, Malaysian Jean Teoh, Alex Socorro of the Philippines, Bhutan’s Sherub Gyaltshen, WIPO Automation Expert Boukary Sawadogo of Burkina Faso, Parita Sengtanthr from Lao PDR
Most of the participants were officers from the department of culture or entertainment. The Philippines, thru PRSP (Performers’ Rights Society of the Philippines), was represented by musician John Lesaca and technical consultant Alex Socorro.
It is encouraging to hear that 11 African countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo – have sound copyright laws for the protection of intellectual property rights.
Those 11 countries, according to Simon Ouedraogo, senior advisor to the WIPO’s Assistant Director General, were the first beneficiaries of the WIPOCOS software. The WIPOCOS team is working on a plan to link the databases of all WIPOCOS users.
Mini discussion among the participants. Seated are Yothin Chhay of Cambodia and Manzurur Rahman of Bangladesh. Standing from left are Vietnamese Nguyen Duc Thang and To Van Long, Indonesian Fadiel Wardhana
The linked databases will afford the CMOs an easier way of collecting royalties from foreign countries. In the near future, cloud computing will be employed. This is an undertaking of WIPO with the assistance of Google.
NORCODE (Norwegian Copyright Development Association), which has an annual budget of $1M, has a very efficient collection system. However, Saemund Fiskvik said that ironically NORCODE has no clout in Norway.
Another interesting item mentioned by Saemund was the “Blank tape levy.” It is some form of a tax collected by Customs from the importer of blank cassette tapes (and lately the CD, DVD and Blu-ray discs).
For the local discs, the manufacturers pay a certain amount. These levy will then be forwarded to the concerned CMO for fair distribution to its members – 50% to authors, 25% to producers, 25% to performers.
CISAC Regional Director Ang Kwee Tiang in a huddle with Yeshi Lhamo of Bhutan, Malaysia’s Jean Teoh and Nepalis Baburam Dahal and Bharat Shakya.
As for the distribution of collected royalties, accuracy is usually a problem because, Saemund admits, of the difficulty of identifying the people involved in the production. Especially for old recordings, there is no way to identify the session musicians.
Ang Kwee Tiang of CISAC (Asia-Pacific, International Confederation of Societies of Authors and. Composers) shared a good news to performers. Producers can only have a maximum of 50% share in the royalties.
Further, the CISAC regional director said that the easiest to collect royalties from are the airline companies which play the works as in-flight music. And the hardest to collect from are big networks that normally require a legal battle.
The WIPOCOS participants and resource speakers
Mac’s iTunes, according to Mr. Ang, has a way of accurately monitoring the downloads of their music. The embedded codes in the music files provides a good count of the downloads made from their website.
In a pocket meeting with Simon Ouedraogo and Candra Darusman, officer-in-charge of WIPO Singapore, PRSP was advised to join SCAPR (Societies’ Council for the Collective Management of Performers’ Rights.
It’s not unusual for a country to have more than 1 CMO. Indonesia has 3 CMOs – one for the performers, one for producers and another for the labor force, all doing the same thing for their stakeholders.
Alex Socorro, the Philippine representative, accepting the WIPOCOS software installer from Boukary Sawadogo, the automation expert of WIPO.
As a culmination of the workshop, four countries were awarded the installer package of the WIPOCOS software – Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines. It was understood that the recipients would be submitting a progress report regularly.
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