As soon as an author who is a member of a CMO has completed a work, a process begins which aims to ensure the management of the rights in that work. The process, carried out by the CMO, is ongoing until the author’s rights in the work in question expire. It centres on the author receiving her due return and benefits from her creation.

The process involves the following steps:

1. Registration and Documentation

The author enters into a membership contract or non-exclusive licence agreement with the CMO. In many countries right owners assign their rights to their local CMO while in others, they merely grant the local CMO a non-exclusive licence.

As we have seen creative work is protected by copyright law from the moment of its creation: the copyright exists in the work without any formal requirement of registration. However, for the purpose of efficient rights administration, CMOs encourage their members  to register all the works they create.

Documentation is the process undertaken by the CMO of researching, substantiating and recording the fundamental elements of works information necessary to carry out its task. This is an important stage as the only way CMOs can organize the accurate distribution of royalties is on the basis of solid documentation of authorship. All CMOs have exhaustive databases both of their members and of the repertoire they represent.

2. Licensing

CMOs deal with the task of authorising the use of the author's work as the authorised representative of the author. A user who meets the conditions set by the CMO will be licensed to use a specific work or the entire repertoire the society represents. The major condition for use will be the payment of a royalty. This is generally set by negotiation between the CMO and the user or by reference to a standard tariff published by the CMO. In some cases the tariff is prescribed by law or through the determination by a copyright court.

The scope of the representation mandate given by authors to their CMOs enables the latter to grant a wide range of licences for different uses and different users. 

3. Collection and Distribution of Royalties

Once a CMO has granted a licence for the use of creative works, its next task is to collect the royalties that the user has agreed to pay as well as the information on the actual use of the works by that user.

Once the royalties are collected, the CMO is responsible for distributing the sums to its members or to the members of fellow CMOs in such a way that every author receives the share of the royalties to which she or he is entitled. A fee to cover the administrative costs of collection and distribution is generally deducted from the copyright royalties.

The complexities of distribution should not be underestimated. Most CMOs handle millions of works and information about millions of uses. Many works have more than one author and each can have numerous holders of their rights. Rights are commonly held by different parties and combinations of parties in different territories and for different uses. Even with modern databases and powerful computing systems the task of accurate distribution is substantial.

4. International network of information exchange

The global use of creative works requires that vast amounts of information about works and uses needs to be exchanged internationally. For example, when a Japanese film is broadcast in Chile, the Japanese CMO which represents the Japanese authors of the work need to receive the relevant information about its use in Chile from the Chilean CMO.

A large part of our work at CISAC is to enhance this information exchange by growing our international network of member CMOs and by setting standards and rules. This includes establishing and managing the specifications for uniquely identifying creative works and their creators.