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Industry faces new copyright data challenge following collapse of GRD

By | Published on Wednesday 15 October 2014

Global Repertoire Database

“What next following the collapse of the music publishing sector’s Global Repertoire Database?” asks CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke in the latest edition of the CMU Digest Report.

As previously published, efforts by the music publishers to create one united database of song copyright ownership faltered earlier this year, and while the International Confederation Of Music Publishers still hopes a lite version of the project can proceed, the big publishers and collecting societies that supported GRD are currently not involved.

Outlining why copyright ownership is often complex, Cooke notes the challenges that face individuals and companies who seek to legitimately use – and pay to licence – music content. He writes: “If a licensee wants to make use of a track, they need to think about the separate copyrights in the lyrics, music and recording. All of which may be co-owned, and controlled by different entities in different territories, some for life of copyright, some for a set period of time, so owners may be different today than last year”.

“And the controller may differ depending on whether you want to copy, perform, communicate or adapt the track, even though you may want to do all those things, or you may not actually know which of those applies to what you plan to do. And on top of that, someone needs to work out whether recording artists involved in the track are due any statutory royalties, and if so how they are being paid”.

A central publicly-accessible copyright ownership database would greatly simplify that process and, Cooke reckons, unlock a steady stream of revenue currently being missed, while making the distribution of royalties to rights owners and creators more accurate and more cost efficient. While only involving the publishers and therefore song copyrights, the GRD was a stepping stone towards that missing database.

Aside from the commercial incentives, Cooke reckons that legislators will put only more pressure on rights owners to get their act together in this regard, ultimately with the threat of compulsory copyright registration if they fail. Though, one solution, he concludes, might simply be each rights owner publishing its ownership data, and allowing the start-up space to develop the technology that brings it all together.

The latest edition of the CMU Digest Report also considers how copyright could be better communicated, Google’s role in combating piracy, and the one thing the labels could do to placate their artists. There’s also an interview with the founder of innovative new ticketing app You can download the PDF report for £9.99 from the CMU Shop.

CMU Digest subscribers received a link to download their copies in last week’s weekly email bulletin. To receive twelve copies of the Report plus a weekly news digest and other benefits for just £50 a year, become a CMU Digest subscriber by clicking here.