On the eve of its 40th anniversary, the Harare-based African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) has recently published the findings of a survey on collective management organisations (CMOs) conducted among its member states. A copy of the survey is available here. In the foreword, ARIPO Director General Mr. Fernando Dos Santos explains that:
“The findings [of the survey] indicate that CMOs in the ARIPO Member States are growing in numbers. It was also found that there is growth in collections of royalties and distributions. However, CMOs are also facing challenges which include insufficient or lack of awareness of copyright laws by users and the general public, users’ unwillingness to pay royalties, piracy of the copyrighted works, inadequate resources and manpower within the CMOs and inadequate availability of technologies that can be used by the CMOs.”
The survey authored by Ms. Keitseng Nkah Monyatsi, former ARIPO Copyright Officer, contains a detailed look at several aspects of the copyright collective management system namely copyright laws of member states, legal provisions for CMOs in member states’ copyright laws, details of active CMOs and memberships across all member states, governance issues, financial status, challenges, observations and recommendations.
From the outset, it is importance to trace the relatively unknown origins of ARIPO’s copyright and related rights mandate. This mandate given by the ARIPO Council of Ministers at its Eighth Session held in Mangochi, Malawi in August, 2002 as a result of a proposal by Malawi in 2001. This proposal sought to facilitate policy coordination and harmonization in the field of copyright and related rights at the regional level with the following as some of the anticipated benefits: (a) Encourage Member States to review and update their legislations; (b) Encourage Member States to adhere to international conventions and treaties in the field of copyright and related rights; (c) Encourage Member States to establish infrastructure for collective administration of copyright and related rights for the benefit of rights owners; and (d) Create a database on copyright and related rights. In other words, it was envisaged that ARIPO would a coordinator of copyright laws and policies among member states and not as some may have thought, a regional CMO.
With this mandate, ARIPO commenced its survey on the copyright situation in member states in 2013. The survey’s findings were: (a) Some of the copyright laws of the member states are compatible with the Berne Convention except in areas such as establishment of copyright tribunals and CMOs; (b) Most of the laws have not incorporated relevant provisions of the WIPO Internet Treaties (WCT & WPPT) and recently adopted Treaties such as Beijing Treaty and Marrakesh Treaty; (c) Most of the copyright offices of the member states are under separate ministries and departments. Where it is so, some member states have established inter-ministerial committees in their countries; (d) A number of CMOs are finding it difficult to penetrate the market, license works, collect and distribute royalties; (e) Lack of reciprocal arrangements to collect royalties on behalf of foreign rights holders and vice-versa; (f) Lack of knowledge of enforcement agencies and no formalized cross border cooperation to fight piracy; and (g) Challenges posed by digital technology in the management of copyright and related rights.
As a result of this survey, several key areas have been identified that need to be addressed by ARIPO and its Member States namely: a) Establishment of a regional approach to copyright administration and enforcement; (b) Building capacity among administration and enforcement officials, mainly officials at copyright offices, the police and customs officials; (c) Advising on other legislative issues and the establishment of necessary institutions to address copyright issues; (d) Assisting some member states to review their laws and establish key institutions; (e) Assisting with the establishment of CMOs in some member states; (f) Providing the creation of policy and legal environment that support the growth of creativity in the member states; (g) Enhancing copyright capacity at ARIPO for effective coordination and promotion of CMOs in the member states; and (h) Leveraging the use of ICT tools to foster the development and dissemination of copyright information and related rights