SCCR 43: KEI statement on Copyright in the Digital Environment (with respect to recorded and streamed music)

On Friday, 17 March 2023, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) delivered the following intervention on recorded and streamed music at the 43rd session of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR).

KEI will direct its comments to the topic of recorded and streamed music

This is a case where you have a highly decentralized group of authors and performers, on the one hand, and a highly concentrated ownership and control of labels and platforms on the other.

At the heart of many complaints are concerns about transparency, meta data, and unfair contracts.

In this regard, WIPO, acting at the global level, can provide an important counterbalance to the power of the labels and platforms, even when only a handful of governments have limited leverage acting on their own.

It may be useful to review Article 40 of the TRIPS Agreement, on the “Control of anti-competitive practices in contractual licenses” which may be relevant to this discussion, including the obligations in the WTO agreement in Article 40.3 to

enter, upon request, into consultations with any other Member which has cause to believe that an intellectual property right owner that is a national or domiciliary of the Member to which the request for consultations has been addressed is undertaking practices in violation of the requesting Member’s laws and regulations on the subject matter of this Section.”

On a different matter, 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 opting into competing collection societies to distribute revenues. This is the so-called Blur-Banff model.

The WIPO Chief Economist could also be asked to attend the next session of the SCCR to discuss, with member states, the types of analysis that could be undertaken or reviewed to shed light on the impact of the digital platforms on the incomes of artists and the distribution of income between countries.