IFLA has submitted initial comments on a draft document on best practices for collective management organisations produced by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). This initiative marks a welcome recognition that the legitimacy of the copyright system depends on the professionalism and good practice of all actors involved in it.


Collective management organisations play a valuable role in the copyright system, taking on the responsibility for collecting royalties for uses of works not covered by copyright exceptions, and distributing them to authors and creators.

In doing this, they both help individual creators – who would not have the time or resources to do this themselves – as well as libraries and end-users of copyrighted content by giving them a ‘one-stop-shop’ for acquiring rights. For example, it is easier to work with a single organisation to pay for all relevant educational copying, rather than deal with each publisher or author separately.

WIPO’s draft document makes an important step towards defining what good collective management looks like. This is important in order to ensure that both original rightholders and users of work receive an efficient and fair service, in line with existing best practice, and that the privileges granted collecting societies in copyright laws are well used. Good governance, fair dealing with creators and licensees, and full transparency can reinforce confidence and trust.

IFLA’s suggestions focus on the need for respect for basic exceptions and limitations to copyright and recognition of the public interest mission of libraries and other cultural heritage institutions, as well as the importance of a clear separation between collective management and government.

IFLA looks forwards to continued participation in the elaboration of these best practice guidelines, and a broader focus on ensuring that the copyright system works for everyone.

You can download IFLA’s submission as a pdf.