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Canadian Journal of Law and Technology

Abstract

The collective management of copyright in Canada was conceived as a solution to alleviate the problem of inefficiency of individual rights management. Creators could not license, collect and enforce copyright efficiently on an individual basis. Requiring users to obtain permission from individual copyright holders for the use of a work was equally inefficient. Collectives, therefore, emerged to facilitate the clearance of rights between creators and users. Even with the facilitation of collectives in the process, clearing rights remains an inherently difficult and convoluted process. This is especially so in the age of the Internet where clearing rights for multimedia products presents new unprecedented challenges. As a result of an infelicitous legal evolution and the multiplication of collectives, fragmentation of copyright, and the way in which it is used and enforced, has occurred. This paper addresses the problems associated with fragmentation and offers solutions to ‘‘defrag’’ the collective management of copyright in Canada.

La gestion collective du droit d’auteur au Canada était à l'origine une solution apportée à l'inefficacité de la gestion individuelle des droits. Les créateurs n’étaient pas en mesure d’octroyer des licences, de percevoir et de mettre en œuvre leur droit d’auteur de façon individuelle. Il était tout aussi inefficace d’exiger des utilisateurs d’œuvres qu’ils obtiennent des licences de chaque ayant droit individuel. Les sociétés de gestion qui ont été mises sur pied devaient faciliter la gestion des rapports entre ayants droit et utilisateurs. Mais malgré le rôle joué par ces sociétés de gestion, l’obtention de autorisation nécessaires à l’exploitation d’une œuvre protégée reste un processus long et alambiqué. Cela est particulière ment vrai depuis l’arrivée d’Internet, qui pose des défis sans précédents dans ce domaine. Le résultat de l’évolution parfois mal orientée de la législation applicable et la création de multiples sociétés de gestion ont mené à un fractionnement du droit d’auteur et de sa gestion. Cet article se penche sur le problème du fractionnement et propose des solutions devant permettre de défragmenter la gestion collective du droit d’auteur.

The main problem with the collective management of copyright in Canada is fragmentation. Fragmentation is a term we use in this paper to refer to the lack of cohesion, standardization, and, to a certain extent, effective organization of both copyright law and collective management per se. Fragmentation occurs on many different levels: rights stemming from the law recognising several economic rights (reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation, rental, etc.); within the market structure; within licensing practices; within a repertory of works; within different markets (language, territory); and through the interoperability of rights clearance systems. Fragmentation impacts directly on all affected parties whether they are rightsholders, users of copyright works, or regulatory authorities that oversee the process.

The structure of the paper is as follows: first, it will explore the history of collective management societies (sometimes referred to simply as ‘‘collectives’’); second, focus on the origin of collective management societies and copyright law in Canada; third, look at the development of technologies and their intersection with copyright law and its management; fourth, examine the origins of fragmentation and the various problems that ensue from the situation; and fifth, look to potential solutions to alleviate some of the concerns and challenges posed by fragmentation.

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