Gadi Oron opening address at 2023 CISAC General Assembly

2023 CISAC General Assembly Gadi

CISAC Director General Gadi Oron opened the 2023 CISAC General Assembly on June 1 held in Mexico City, hosted by member society SACM. Read his opening address below:

Good morning, everyone and welcome to CISAC’s General Assembly.

It took us four years to get to this point. As I guess you all know, we were invited to Mexico to celebrate with SACM their 75thanniversary. That was supposed to be in 2020.

We all know what happened in the following years, but SACM kept their invitation and every year, since the pandemic broke, they were hoping to host our General Assembly.

… Unfortunately, each time, we had to postpone.

So, we are extremely happy to be here today and to host our first, post-pandemic, General Assembly, here in Mexico.

I would like to thank SACM for keeping their invitation open, and for hosting us.

It gives me great pleasure to see many friends and colleagues, from all over the world, who are here today.

And I am thrilled and excited that we have with us our President, Björn Ulvaeus, and three Vice-Presidents: Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Arturo Márquez, and the newly elected Vice-President Kazuhiko Fukuoji, who are all honouring us with their presence.

We’re meeting at a time of extraordinary changes and challenges. There are major changes in the markets in which societies are operating; there are changes in the structure and operations of the CISAC network; and there are dramatic changes in the way works are created.

For the first time in our history, we need to ask ourselves how to deal with works which were not created by human authors, but by artificial intelligence. We cannot ignore these changes. We must recognise that our world is transforming.

And if we want to survive and remain relevant – as societies, as a community, and as the guardians of creators’ interests – we must tackle the challenges that this transformation brings.

We must stay ahead of the curve. We cannot let forces outside our network dictate our future.

The pandemic may now be over, but it is anything but “business as usual” for our global community.

The good news is that, globally, we are emerging strongly out of the crisis caused by the pandemic.

In 2021 collections started bouncing back, and in 2022, many societies have announced – or will announce – a record-breaking year. These increases in collections are thanks to digital. There is no question that, in today’s market, digital income is the driver for growth. 

Across all the CISAC repertoires, streaming and digital royalties are becoming the most important source of income. But as a result of that, another thing is noticeable.

We are becoming an increasingly fractured global community. While some societies deliver record collections, many others are struggling.

Many smaller societies in developing markets are still recovering from the crisis imposed by the pandemic, and they are struggling to adapt to the digital marketplace.

On top of that, there is a lot of uncertainty in the market. Inflation, the cost-of-living crisis, and the economic ripple effect are all dark clouds that are hanging over our members’ operations.

The business landscape is changing and CISAC is responding to the change.

We conducted a long and extensive review of the services that CISAC is providing and the strategy that it should adopt for the future. It was an unprecedented exercise, not only in its scope but also because it was highly inclusive.

More than 140 societies were involved over three years, in responding to our survey, in one-on-one interviews, and in many focus-groups meetings. 

I’m extremely grateful to all of you who dedicated their time and provided input to this process. We have emerged with important findings, of which I would like to mention a few.

First, the findings show overwhelmingly that CISAC’s activities are highly valued. But we understood that CISAC must also adapt and change, in line with the changes that societies themselves are making to stay competitive and efficient.

A package of changes was agreed in 4 priority areas:  

We will strengthen our lobbying using the voice of creators as our leverage We will restore our compliance monitoring and will relaunch a targeted support program, which will focus on societies who can deliver results. We will enhance the efficiency of our information systems. And we are streamlining and simplifying our committee structure, to make it more efficient and effective

The strongest asset we have; the asset which gives CISAC its unique position and impact, is the voice of creators. It is therefore no surprise that the first conclusion we’ve reached in the strategy process is that we need leverage their voice.

Today I am delighted that we can welcome to this General Assembly our President Björn Ulvaeus. This is his first physical General Assembly. He became our President three years ago, just before lockdown. He came with a lot of passion to use his star profile and influence to serve creators. And he has worked tirelessly to that end.

When the pandemic broke, he raised the alarm about the need for government support for artists. He also spoke on the inequity and the lack of fairness in the digital market. He talked about data issues and the need improve quality, and data exchanges. And, he supported our lobbying in meetings at the highest level of government, in Germany and Japan.

I am grateful to Björn for all his energy and for all the support he has given CISAC and our societies.

We are also very fortunate to have Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Arturo Márquez as our Vice-Presidents. Both of them are with us today and I would like to thank them, for all of their support.

I am very pleased to announce that all of them: Björn, Yvonne and Arturo - were re-elected for another term.

We are also delighted to welcome two new Vice-Presidents to CISAC today: Kazuhiko Fukuoji from Japan and Ángeles González-Sinde from Spain.

Mr Fukuoji is a talented and celebrated painter who has been dedicating a lot of his time and energy to promote the interests of visual artists. He has been involved in many CISAC lobbying activities for many years, and it is a pleasure and an honour to welcome him.

Ángeles González-Sinde is a screenwriter, film director, illustrator, children’s author, and also former Minister of Culture.

Unfortunately, Ángeles could not join us today, but she sent us a video message.

We are grateful to her and to Mr Fukuoji that they have agreed to serve as our Vice-Presidents.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the two outgoing Vice-Presidents: Chinese film director Jia Zhang-Ke and Spanish visual artist Miquel Barceló, who served us for six years, and opened many doors for us.

The relationship between CISAC and the creators is precious.

Our plan in the coming year is to significantly step up our work with our Presidency and also with our Creators Councils.

The strategy review also underlined the value that our members place on CISAC’s technology and information systems services. This area remains one of our key priorities.

We continue to promote adoption of the ISWC identifier across the music value chain.

The modernised system that we launched has increased the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of the ISWC. More than 17 million ISWC codes have been issued by our members since the new system was launched. And more and more publishers are using the resolution and allocation services that we launched specifically for publishers.

What we are focussing on now, is to promote use of the codes by digital services and online platforms.

In parallel to that, we are also working on charting a new future for the CIS-Net system.

At the end of last year, the Boards of CISAC and FastTrack took a historic decision to transfer the ownership of CIS-Net to CISAC.

It wasn’t an easy decision to reach, and it came after long discussions with both FastTrack and non-FastTrack societies.

What this would mean is that CISAC will be in charge and will be able to determine the operations and future development of the tools.

To start planning for the future, we have already started working on a new vision for CIS-Net, with a group of society representatives who help us develop what we call “the CIS-Net roadmap”.

On the advocacy front, copyright issues have come back on to the agenda of governments.

Over the past year, we helped more than 50 societies – from Chile to China and many in between - with their domestic lobbying.

We also worked at an international level at WIPO; lobbied the EU Commission in the context of trade agreements and worked with other regional agencies such as the African Union, UEMOA, ARIPO and others.

Our biggest challenge moving forward is, without a doubt, Artificial Intelligence.

AI will increasingly be at the centre of our agenda in coming year.We have already worked on developing policy recommendations. And we will be doing all we can to guide our members on the vast implications of AI for copyright and for creators.

On the business side, our biggest achievements recently have been in Greece and Turkey. In both of them, we have shown the impact that CISAC can have in restoring dysfunctional markets and growing collections. It is exactly 5 years since CISAC launched a support programme for AUTODIA in Greece. When we stepped in, the market was collapsing and there were hardly any collections.

Today, we can proudly say that Greece is a well-functioning market. The collections of AUTODIA last year exceeded €16 million.

In Turkey, a combination of pressure and support from CISAC, has led the country’s two societies – MESAM and MSG - to collaborate. They started addressing problems that were there for many years, and to heal the broken relationship of the past.

The results of that, are already evident. In the local currency, they’ve increased their collections by nearly 50% last year.

It is impossible for me, in this short overview of our activities, to include all the workstreams on which we are working.

However, one project that I do want to mention, is Ukraine. With this project, our global community has really shown its strength and its unique ability to support fellow members at times of crisis. Our campaign – “Creators for Ukraine” – raised €1.4 million, thanks to the generous donations of many members. The money has gone directly to Ukrainian artists, and to societies and NGOs in neighbouring countries that support refugees.

This is a living example of the power of CISAC solidary and we will hear more about this in the panel discussion later.

Before I finish, a few other remarks.

First, about the Assembly today.

In the spirit of change, you will see that we’ve also adopted a new format for this General Assembly. As you all know, we chose to do the voting online. This allowed everyone to participate, including those who couldn’t travel to be with us today, and it also saved time in our agenda.

We will soon present to you the results of the votes and then we will move to the new program that we’ve prepared, which includes Q&As and panel discussions with creators and society CEOs.

I hope that you will enjoy this new approach, and I would like to thank all the panellists who agreed to take part.

Instead of the presentations from each department, that we used to have in previous Assemblies, we’ve prepared written reports that we circulated to all of you.

I hope you will read them, because we cover a lot of ground that will not be mentioned today.

Finally, I would like to say a few words of thanks.

We have an amazing team at CISAC - in Paris and the Regional Offices – who are totally dedicated to serving our members. It has not been easy for us in the last few years. We reduced our staff quite significantly during the pandemic and there was a lot of pressure on the ones who remained. So, I would like to thank all of them for all their hard work and dedication.

I would also like to thank again all our friends at SACM, for their determination and efforts over the past few months to organise this Assembly, and this week in Mexico City.

And finally, I would like to thank all of you, our members, those who are here and those who are watching the live stream, for all your support and for joining us today.

Thank you.