SCCR 41: KEI statement on copyright in the digital environment

On Wednesday, 30 June 2021, Knowledge Ecology International delivered the following statement on copyright in the digital environment at WIPO’s 41st session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights .

SCCR 41 – KEI statement on copyright in the digital environment

Our comment concerns the market for recorded music, the topic of several of the studies. Revenues paid to authors, performers, producers and copyright holders have increased sharply from streaming services, as illustrated by Figure 1 in study SCCR/41/3. IFPI estimates that music streaming revenues grew from $1 billion in 2012 to $11.3 billion in 2019. There is, however, widespread dissatisfaction with the royalties received by individual performers or authors, despite the fact that the leading streaming services distribute more than 70 percent of revenues to performers or other rights holders. The royalty payments from streaming are often based upon a division of streaming revenue, that is zero sum, in the sense that money paid to one group reduces the money available to others. In this sense, the greater the share of royalty revenue paid to a handful of popular artists reduces what is available for everyone else. But also, the amount of money paid to authors or producers reduces what is paid to performers, and visa versa. The same is true with money paid to holders of copyrights and related rights that exist long after the death of authors or performers.

KEI has proposed allowing consumers of streaming services to choose, at least in part, the methods of allocating royalty payments to authors, performers and producers, by opt-ing into competing collection societies to distribute revenues. This is the so-called Blur-Banff model.