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CISAC Takes Digital Royalties Issue to the UN

Monday, September 29, 2014

Panel of Creators led by CISAC (Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Auteurs et de Compositeurs) President Jean Michel Jarre State their Case at UN Agency for Urgent Digital Royalties Policy Reforms

Paris, France September 26, 2014 Speaking at the General Assembly of World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, a group of creators led by CISAC President Jean Michel Jarre invited policy-makers to help build a fairer and more sustainable digital economy for creators.

During one of the panel discussions, Canadian songwriter Eddie Schwartz stated “Sales of one million records would at one time have paid me a modest middle class income and I would have received a Platinum Record. Looking at my digital royalty statements today, for one million streams I get $35. My middle class economic status has been reduced to a pizza.”

WIPO, a specialized UN agency charged with the development of copyright laws and policies, is holding its annual General Assembly this week. Around 1000 officials from 187 countries, including Ministers of Culture, ambassadors and high level government officials attend the meeting to discuss the agenda and priorities of the agency for the next year. On that occasion, CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, organized on September 23 a special session devoted to the challenges creators face in the digital market.

Presented with evidence showing the scarcity of revenues from the use of music on streaming platforms, policy-makers were urged to address the issue of the remuneration of creators in the digital age.

CISAC’s president, French electronic music composer Jean Michel Jarre, called upon decision- makers to ensure that the creators get a fair share of the massive revenues generated by online companies that provide access to creative works. He pointed out that creators are at the centre of the digital economy and that developing sustainable business models with digital intermediaries will be essential to securing a fair share of the value chain generated by creative works. “We, as creators, are pro-technology. We embrace it and welcome the wider access to culture that digital devices and services afford the public, and the opportunity to reach wider audiences that technology affords creators. But we need business models that make sense to all parties,” said Jarre.

“For the first time in history we have global platforms that can distribute creative content from virtually anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world,” said Schwartz. “Thanks to the Internet, African, Latin and South American and Asian music creators have instantaneous and universal access to the same European and North American audiences and consumers that I as a Canadian songwriter have had access to over the course of my professional life. But ironically, of what value is this unprecedented access if the music is virtually worthless?” Schwartz added: “If the revenues don’t flow back to creators, while the shareholders and CEOs of companies who deny the value of music enjoy literally billions in profits, surely something is terribly wrong.”

Gadi Oron, Director General of CISAC, commented about the event: “For the first time, CISAC and its creators’ community made the case loud and clear and explained the major challenges faced by creators today. We are all aware of the huge potential in the digital market for artists from all corners of the world. But we need to guarantee that the benefits of digital technologies are shared with those who create the content. At a time when the international copyright system is under attack and against the backdrop of a strong push for exceptions to rights and a lower level of protection for creators, it is important that decision makers are made aware of market realities. They should use their power to ensure creators can continue to make a living from their work and that the digital market does not benefit only a few powerful online players”. 

Presided over by internationally renowned electronic music composer Jean-Michel Jarre, CISAC - the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers protects the rights and promotes the interest of creators and rights worldwide.

With a membership of 230 authorssocieties in 120 countries, CISAC indirectly represents over 3 million creators from all geographies and artistic fields including music, audio-visual, drama, literature, and visual arts.

CISACs role is to enable authorssocieties to seamlessly represent creators across the globe and to ensure that royalties flow to authors for the use of their works anywhere in the world. In 2012, royalties collected by CISAC's member societies in their respective national territories topped 7.8 billion.

Founded in 1926, CISAC is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation headquartered in France, with regional offices in Burkina Faso, Chile, China and Hungary.