More About Reprographic Rights Organizations

By Tarja Koskinen-Olsson and Paul Greenwood The International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO)

What are RROs?
“RROs began in response to the need to license wide-scale photocopy access to the world’s scientific and cultural printed works. Originally called “collecting societies,” RROs license reproduction of copyright-protected material whenever it is impractical for rightsholders to act individually. RROs derive their authority from national legislation and/or from contracts with rightsholders. Each year, national RROs license hundreds of thousands of users to copy from millions of titles published throughout the world.”

What is the mission of IFRRO?
1986 meeting in Heidelberg adopted the following declaration emphasizing
IFRRO’s dedication to the establishment of RRO’s in countries where none exist:

“We hereby declare our intent to encourage any joint attempt by authors and publishers to establish national collecting societies in the field of reprography. We are ready to offer co-operation to the establishment in a positive spirit.” (III.3)

How Do You Finance an RRO?
Although, generally speaking, RROs are non-profitmaking organizations, they are businesses nonetheless and the successful ones are run in a very business-like manner.

“In order to get off the ground, an RRO needs start-up capital just like any other business. Every existing RRO has borrowed seed-corn money and/or necessary manpower from the people who will eventually benefit most from its creation i.e. the authors and publishers themselves.” (IV.2)

What is the Legal Basis for the Collective Administration of Reprographic Rights?
“Collective administration should be based on voluntary licensing whenever possible. The owners of the exclusive rights should be able to decide whether, in what circumstances, and on what terms the use of their works will be authorised. When it is impossible or impracticable for them to exercise their exclusive rights individually, they can do so collectively.” (I.3)

What Are Voluntary & Non-Voluntary Licensing Systems?
Since the right of reproduction is an exclusive right, it is natural to establish collective administration of reprographic reproduction rights on a voluntary basis. In voluntary licensing systems the collective administration organization issues licences on behalf of the rightholders, collects remuneration and distributes it to rightholders.

Non-voluntary licensing systems can be stipulated in national legislation whenever this is permitted by the international conventions. In non-voluntary licensing systems the consent of rightholders is not required, but they have a right to remuneration. Collective administration is required to collect and distribute this remuneration.

A collective administration organization can only administer the rights of its members, i.e. the rights of those who have given the organization a mandate to act on their behalf. (II.2)

How Are Reprographic Fees Distributed?
One of the basic principles of collective administration is that remuneration should be distributed individually to rightsholders according to the actual use of their works. This general principle also applies to remuneration for reprographic reproduction.

The following methods of distribution are used:
— individual distribution on the basis of full reporting
— individual distribution on the basis of sampling
— individual distribution on the basis of objective availability
— distribution for the collective purposes of rightholders

FULL REPORTING means that users record details of every copyright work that is copied. The advantage of full reporting is that the collected data provides an accurate basis for the distribution of revenue to rightholders. Many licensing programs in the United States are based on full reporting.

SAMPLING is a technique that is often used in the schools sector. A defined number of users report their actual use at agreed intervals. In Denmark, for instance, 5% of all schools regularly report their copying to the local RRO.

Since all material existing on the market can be copied, in some countries the assumption is made that at some stage it probably will be copied. The principle of OBJECTIVE AVAILABILITY, i.e. “availability on the market” can therefore form a basis for individual distribution, as is the practice in Germany. Authors and publishers report their publications to the local RRO and receive their share of the distribution accordingly.

“In Norway, Finland and Sweden, fees are distributed for the COLLECTIVE PURPOSES of rightsholders. This is the solution which rightsholders themselves have chosen. It applies only to the rightsholders represented by the organization in the country. According to the extended collective licence in the Nordic countries, non-represented Rightsholders always have a legal right to individual remuneration on an individual basis.” (II.7)

What is the Future of Reprographic Usage?
National RROs have made enormous strides in providing effective photocopy access to users along with equitable remuneration for rightsholders. IFRRO’s informational and educational programs have increased awareness and respect for copyright by governments, users and rightsholders throughout the world. Nevertheless, illegal copying is still widely practiced in many countries. The emergence of newer technologies further intensifies the importance of organised and timely responses to the needs of both users and rightsholders. For this reason, IFRRO’s mission and the growth and solidarity of its members continue to be vital. (RROs, IFRRO, and the Future)

© IFRRO 1997 Edited by Tarja Koskinen-Olsson/Paul Greenwood
Reprinted with Permission