Director General Gadi Oron at CISAC General Assembly: Adapting to the changing market

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Director General Gadi Oron welcomes members to the 2019 CISAC General Assembly while detailing the Confederation's actions and achievements in the past year.

The following speech was delivered by CISAC Director General at the 2019 CISAC General Assembly in Tokyo, hosted by JASRAC.

Good morning and welcome to CISAC’s General Assembly.  

A famous Japanese proverb claims that “the bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists”. This proverb fits well with CISAC’s actions in the past year. And if we go by this line of wisdom, we are a very strong organisation. 

Our strength is like the strength of the bamboo. We have adjusted, adapted and transformed. Sometimes we have even bent backwards to deal with all the challenges that we and you, our member societies, have faced in the past twelve months.

We are adapting, as we must, to the changing market. But at the same time maintaining our core values and the core values of collective management.

In the last year, we have responded to the need for new technology to support growth in the digital market. We have proactively responded to governance challenge sat our societies. We have reacted to unfavourable laws in some countries that jeopardise creators’ livelihoods.

We have devoted a lot of resources to helping our societies around the world meet the demands for more efficiency, accuracy and transparency.   

CISAC’s mission, described in simplest terms, is to help our member societies deliver growth: to help them collect more and distribute more. We aim to do that in two ways: help societies improve their operations and help them secure a favourable legislative environment for their operations. This mission has underlined all we have done in the past twelve months.

First, one of our key initiative, to support licensing in the digital market, has been to invest in a major upgrade to the ISWC system. It has been clear for some time now, that the identifier and our systems need to work better. This project to upgrade the ISWC system has started with an independent assessment that we commissioned from an outside provider. 

We ended up hiring an external company, Spanish Point, to rebuild the ISWC system for us. This important project is underway. It will conclude next year. It will help us to significantly improve the allocation and dissemination of ISWC codes, avoid duplications and data integrity issues. It will help societies and digital services achieve more accuracy in collections and distributions for musical works. 

Another big step forward of the last year is the planned integration of Fast Track, our technology provider, into CISAC. This is a historic move. The integration of Fast Track into CISAC will better equip us with the technology skills we need to serve our members. It will also give us the control and ownership of the tools we’ve developed and will develop in the future.  

In the field of governance and training, CISAC is increasingly being asked to provide more training, and to be more proactive in enforcing compliance with our rules.

I would like to mention two things here. First, we have significantly improved the levels of compliance of our member societies. The number of societies who do not submit their Income & Expenditures declarations or transparency documents, or do not pay their membership fees, has been reduced quite dramatically. 

Second, we have assisted more societies to develop. As part of our Member Support Programme, we offered specialised support to societies in Albania, Bulgaria, Thailand, Guatemala, Cape Verde and others. 

CISAC has also provided guidance, expertise and leadership in high profile and complex cases. We have worked very closely with the Indian society IPRS even after they were expelled from CISAC. We paved the way for their re-admission.  We helped in the change of the IPRS Statutes, distribution rules and many other aspects. The turnaround that was achieved at IPRS enabled the society’s readmission to CISAC after two years of expulsion. This is a real success story and we are very happy that IPRS representatives are with us here today. This success reflects our approach and our objective- to assist underperforming societies, to support, to reform and restore confidence in them.  

In Spain, CISAC has worked over many months to help restore SGAE to health. Throughout this evolving crisis, we adopted a careful and balanced approach. We have offered support to the society and, at the same time, made sure that we maintain the integrity of our global community. This has been a complex and highly visible crisis with implications for creators and for the reputation of collective management - far beyond Spain. 

After many months of supporting SGAE, including a detailed analysis with recommendations, CISAC and its Board opened a sanctions procedure last December. This has led to a decision of our Board, that will be put to the General Assembly today, to expel SGAE temporarily from membership of CISAC. This is a deeply regrettable step. Particularly as SGAE is one of our most important societies and one of CISAC’s founding members. But our responsibility to our members globally mean that we have no choice.  

The sanctions we will ask the General Assembly to approve today is a step intended to lead quickly to a solution. We hope that all the concerns our community has will be addressed and that SGAE will be readmitted in the coming months.  

In Greece, CISAC has worked to turn around a collapsed market and support our member society, Autodia. We have faced an unprecedented challenge there, with a government that decided to take over collective management and compete with our member. In this critical situation, I am proud and grateful that the CISAC Board made the decision to support our only member in Greece. Also, many societies contributed financially to this effort. This was a clear vote of international confidence in Autodia. In the past 6 months, CISAC has totally transformed Autodia and the society has made impressive progress. This month it started its first distributions to creators.

On the advocacy front, our sector had a historic year. The new EU Copyright Directive has been adopted in Europe. It has achieved something that our societies have been lobbying for, for many years: addressing the fundamental imbalance in the digital market between powerful technology platforms and the global creative community. This is the most significant progress so far in our global campaign for a solution to the transfer of value.

The Directive is a great achievement for our European societies, and we are proud that we could support them at key strategic moments. We brought the voices of international creators to Brussels. Our President Jean-Michel Jarre spoke at the European Parliament and, in the last days before the vote, championed a powerful initiative - “just say yes” - that involved many creators from around the world. We also sent numerous statements and letters to politicians and Members of the European Parliament, signed by our President and Vice Presidents, and our creators’ councils. 

It has been a good year also for the global campaign for fair remuneration for audiovisual creators. Our legal study to support the right was published at the end of last year. A summary brochure, that we use in our lobbying, has been published in 6 languages including Russian and Japanese. Most importantly, the new EU Copyright Directive recognised the principle of fair and proportionate remuneration. We were happy to support our AV societies in Europe and their regional organisation SAA in their push for this important outcome. 

Private copying levies remains an area where we see great potential. In the last year we have been using CISAC’s comprehensive report on levies, to educate and lobby governments. There is enormous potential here, if governments will implement and enforce private copying levies.  

These efforts, especially in Africa, are showing results. Countries including Malawi, Morocco, Cape Verde and Tunisia have started collecting levies for the first time. In all of these places, CISAC has been actively involved. 

For our visual arts member societies, CISAC continues to use its international influence to promote implementation of the resale right. Our campaign today is focused on two points. First at WIPO in Geneva, where CISAC is working with a newly-formed task force to analyse the practical impact of adopting the right.  

In addition, we work in priority markets such as Japan, China, Canada and the US, where we are reaching out to governments, making submissions and participating in events, to convince these countries to introduce the right.  

CISAC has a growing international profile. We are focused on building up our relations with governments and with international organisations and agencies. Last October, we had a ground-breaking meeting with the UN Secretary General, António Guterres. This adds to the close relations we’ve already developed with UNESCO, WIPO and others who deal with policy making.

A few special priority markets, which have enormous potential for the future, are also at the focus of our work. At the end of last year, we were invited by the Chinese government to give a keynote speech in the most influential trade conference of last year in Shanghai. This reflects a new depth of engagement that we have with the Chinese government.   

Our work programme continues to evolve. We’ve added some new and important projects to our agenda. One of these concerns the growing practice of buyout contracts. This is an important challenge, because of the dramatic increase in the popularity of video on demand streaming platforms.

We know that more and more authors today are being asked by these platforms to agree to the buy-out of their rights in exchange for a lump sum payment. This can conflict with assignment of rights that already took place between the author and the society. It also creates complications to our societies’ licensing negotiations with online platforms. 

This is a challenging issue and we cannot ignore it. We have commissioned a legal analysis which will be completed soon. Our plan is to work on recommendations for our members. 

CISAC has also embraced the issue of gender equality. At last year’s General Assembly, we had an important panel which kicked off a work programme that we call “Women@CISAC”. We are now compiling information and case studies from our members. We are working on guidelines and best practices. We are partnering in initiatives that deal with the opportunities available to women in the creative industries.

Before concluding, I would like to say some words of thanks. 

First, I would like to thank our hosts, the Japanese society JASRAC. Mr Asaishi, the President of JASRAC, is Vice-Chair of the CISAC Board and in this capacity, he has taken a leading role in pushing our priorities in this country and beyond. In recent years, JASRAC has shown its commitment to protecting creators – not only of music, which is the repertoire managed by JASRAC – but also other repertoires, including audiovisual and visual art. JASRAC plays a leading role in our Asia Pacific Committee, chairing the committee and actively lobbying throughout the Asian region. 

We sincerely thank our friends at JASRAC for bringing us to Tokyo and for all the hard work that has gone into hosting this Assembly and all the other meetings this week. Let me add my heartfelt congratulations to JASRAC's 80th anniversary. 

I would also like to thank the members of our Board of Directors. As you all know, we are electing a new Board today and I would like to thank the existing Board Members for their engagement and strong support.

In particular, I would like to thank the Board Chairperson, Eric Baptiste. Eric has been holding the Chairperson position since 2014 and his appointment to that position coincided with my appointment as Director General. Over this period, he has been a huge source of guidance and assistance to me and to the CISAC team.  His deep knowledge and experience in our sector have played an important part in the successful operations of CISAC. I am grateful for his support in turning CISAC to what it has become today: an active, influential and highly respected organisation. I am sure you will all join me in expressing the appreciation of all of us, for what Eric has done as the Chair of the Board of CISAC.

I would also like to thank our President, Jean-Michel Jarre. Jean-Michel concludes two mandates as our President today. It’s hard to believe it has been six years since he was appointed to the role. 

We are going to ask you to extend his mandate for one more year, so it is not a “goodbye” yet. But it is a big “thank you” for agreeing to stay with us for another year, and for all the immense support, energy and passion that you have shown to CISAC since 2013.

Finally, thank you to all of you for coming to Tokyo. I wish us a very fruitful General Assembly.