All About Copyright Management

Last Updated at: Jul 06, 2021
8 years after the last amendment to the Copyright Act, the Government is once again inviting suggestions for reforms to India’s copyright law. The current round of reforms is rumoured to be driven mostly by the music industry. This industry has been in the grip of a bruising internecine struggle between music labels and the songwriters and music composers. 


This article is written by Vandhana

Copyrights give the right holders the exclusive right to claim ownership and other allied rights to certain acts. These rights not only give the ability to the owners to make decisions on how to use the work but also allows them to seek remuneration for the work. Not only this, it gives them the right to forbid any unauthorised exploitation of the work. Let’s see what is copyright management.

As an individual, it is not easy for us to manage our copyrights and other related rights. Once work is protected under copyrights, unauthorised use of it can lead to infringement. Therefore, any person who wants to use the work has to seek permission from the owner before using it for any purpose. It might not be practically possible to do that always. For instance, if a person wants to use any work, then it might be practically difficult for him to contact the owner of the work and the same way it might be difficult for the owners to contact every single organisation to negotiate and seek remuneration for their work.

At this point, collective copyright management proves to be handy and they make the whole process of authorisation and negotiation simple.

All about Copyright


In most cases, the copyright owners will opt for individual management of rights which involves defining the contractual relationship between the owner and publisher/producer who will give the work a public presence. Such rights are otherwise known as “primary rights.”

One classic example here is of the novelist: when a novel is written, the novelist will want to publish it and make it available to the public. He will contact the publisher who will publish the work. Before that, the author and the publisher will enter into the contract all by themselves without any intermediary. This establishes the first relationship between the parties. 

There are three ways in which rights can have a trade:

  1. Assignment
  2. License 
  3. Transfer. 

But, when it comes to collective management of rights- two contractual relations are established.
collective management

Collective management customarily deals with “secondary rights” involved in multiple uses of protected works. However, the line between primary and secondary rights is not clear-cut and in today’s media landscape it is getting even more blurred

What is Collective Copyright Management?

It is one stop in the copyright system where the copyright owners can allow to administer their rights in this collective management system. It is the important function carried out by the CMO’s as it enables the rights owners to efficiently exercise their rights across the globe. 

The process of managing these collective rights of copyright work and simply the process of rights management is called collective copyright management. By authorizing or mandating professional Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) to manage their rights, authors, performers, producers and other right holders can simplify the management of those rights.

What is Collective Copyright Management Organizations (CMOS)?

These are professional organisations who act as an intermediary between the owner of the work and user of the work. They primarily form the link between them and make sure that the rights of the owners are used in their best interest.

However, the CMO’s can only negotiate with those rights for which there are mandates. Licensing users is one of the primary functions of a CMO. Users of materials with protection are granted a non-exclusive license, meaning that no user gets exclusivity to the repertoire of the CMO.

When it is practically impossible for the individual right holders to manage their rights and expeditiously exercise them for their monetary benefit, approaching the collective management organisation is the most viable option. In short, collective management can summarize as a system that makes easy and legal access to protect works by users possible, while according remuneration to rights holders.

Protect Your ideas

In general terms, the task of the CMO can be simplified into three categories:

  • It determines – where, when, how –the works can be used
  • Negotiate the terms with the user of the work
  1. Collect the amount and distribute it to the right holder of the concerned copyright.


As mentioned early, the main function of the CMO is to simplify the management of rights of the right holders. From the above discussion, the following benefits can be accessed:

Benefits to the right holders of the copyright

  • Financial benefits from the use of works
  • Helps in the negotiation of the terms between owner and user
  • Lesser the cases of copyright infringement
  • Simplifies the compliances related to copyright 

Benefits to the user of the copyright

  • Users will save from getting into the cumbersome legislative process as the entire process carries out by the third party
  • They can save time as the details of the owner can obtain easily.

For instance, if you have to use a music recording from YOUTUBE which a copyright material, then you will have to get permission from the singer of the particular music recording, which is not that easy considering them being celebrity artist, in such situations, CMO will simplify the process and obtain permission for you.

Creative sectors where collective management is customarily applied have developed over time with technological advances. Today, instances of collective management are continually increasing. Also, new media and the Internet call for flexible licensing solutions and new forms of collective licensing have emerged.

CMO’s are available in the following sectors:

  • Music and sound recording
  • Reprography
  • Visual arts
  • Photography
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Dramatic and theatre
  • New media


Creative Commons is an international not for profit organisation that works for providing a free license to the owners of the work. These licenses help the creator to give permission to others to use the work subject to other conditions.

The work will automatically become the asset of the creator and he has the sole right to choose how the work has to use by others. For instance, there are three situations when work is in the public domain:

  1. On the expiration of the copyright term
  2. When the creator himself wants to relinquish the right and place it in the public domain.
  3. When he wants his work to be used by others.

Once the work is in the public domain, the creator loses his rights over the work. So, the first two instances involve no role of creative commons as the license cannot be obtained for work under public domain. However, in the third situation, obtaining licenses from these creative commons will let him reserve certain rights and give him options to choose how he wants his work to be used. Once, the work is under CC, the public is aware of how they have to use the work. And states the restrictions to usage as well,

One of the interesting facts to be mentioned about the CC is that it allows the work to be used for educational purposes. So the teachers can easily print out the work without seeking permission from the creator.

Creative commons license

These licenses help the licensor (creator) to retain certain rights with them while allowing others to copy, print, distribute and use their work. It mainly allows using the work for non-commercial purposes. These licenses ensure that the creators of the work get enough credits for the work. The license continues as long as the copyright on that exists and can be used globally.

One important thing to remember while using this license is that the licensee has to give credits to the creator of that work so as to retain his identity as the creator and licensee cannot restrict others to use the work.

Creative Commons is not ‘anti-copyright’, or even an alternative to copyright – it’s just an option of a different way to share works, and it fundamentally relies on copyright – you must own a copyright in a work in order to make it available under a Creative Commons license.

Despite a creative commons being popular, it is always better to have a copyright registration because:

  1. It is not easy to keep a track on who is using the work and to what extent. The owner will be unaware of the whereabouts of his work. So, if the work is for the purpose undesirable to the owner, then there is no recourse for it.
  2. The second main reason is that it’s not entirely clear how the Indian judiciary system will react if the owner brings a claim against a user who breaches the license. Because proof of ownership may be a prima facie evidence part in establishing a breach of the agreement, the owner probably will need to show proof of copyright ownership, which means registering the copyright.
  3. Also, when we consider the monetary aspect of copyright registration, it is more beneficial than creative commons as the return of investment is more as compared to creative commons.

Why is Creative Commons not suitable for Indian markets?

Under the Indian regime, CC type licenses may require copyright societies specific to their purpose. As regular copyright societies may not find it easy to adapt to the ideals of open content licenses.

The Indian copyright regime at present is in need of certain amendments to bring it up to date with the advancements in technology. Especially since it treats every medium of creative work in a different class. Making it even harder to apply laws in theory or practice over something as multimedia as a personal computer and the internet. 

Furthermore, the mechanism of the modern information technology does not resemble any of the existing statutory technologies. For publishing provided and make it harder for them to coexist with our copyright regime. It is due to these inflexibilities in the technological sector. The Indian Law is not in a position to absorb creative commons in India.

Therefore, it highly recommends you to contact your nearest attorney and process your copyright applications. It is through the Copyright Office of India with assistance from an attorney.


The collective administration of copyright by a society is a concept where management and protection of copyright in several works. They are undertaken by the said society of authors and other owners of such works.

In India, a copyright society is registered under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957. Such a society is by authors and other copyright owners which may include licensing entities. This is by virtue of an assignment from the original author. The business of granting license in respect of literary, musical and artistic works incorporated in cinematograph films. Or sound recordings shall carry out only through a copyright society duly with registration under this Act. Ordinarily, only one society can register to do business in respect of the same class of work.


  • issue license
  • collect fees 
  • distribution of collected fees
  • obtain authorisation from the author or owner
  • enter into agreements with any foreign society 
  • any other functions as deemed in section 35