Extended Collective Licensing

What is it?

An extended collective licensing (ECL) framework enables a copyright management organisation (CMO) to get approval to ‘extend’ a licensing solution authorised by the CMO’s members to cover non-members’ content. It thus allows licensing solutions that are more comprehensive for licensees than those that only cover the works of the CMO’s members.

Rightsholders can opt out (which means that their works are excluded from a licence). This distinguishes ECL from statutory licences (such as those for education and governments), which entitle rightsholders to compensation but not to withhold their content.

Where does ECL operate?

ECL originated in Scandinavia in the 1960s, but has recently been adopted in a number of other countries – including France, Germany and the UK – and has been recommended by the US Copyright Office for ‘mass digitisation’ projects.

What are the benefits?

The UK Government’s Impact Assessment for ECL said:

The objective is to streamline licensing procedures so that rights clearance can be cheaper and more efficient than at present. The intended effects are to:

  • Decrease transaction cost for users of the licensing system, thereby reducing barriers to entry
  • Improve access to works and enhance legal certainty for consumers
  • Ensure maximum possible royalties are collected for creators by reducing the cost and inconvenience of multiple transactions and by setting aside money for absent rights holders who might not otherwise have been compensated for the use of their works.

What licensing solutions does it support?

Uses enabled by ECL in other countries include: primary broadcasting, simulcasting (Web TV), retransmission of broadcasts, photocopying, reproduction of music or audiovisual material for teaching or scientific research purposes, on-demand streaming of archive productions, access to out-of print books, use of clips from archive productions in new productions, and digitisation of library collections.

How would it work in Australia?

The Copyright Tribunal of Australia already has jurisdiction to determine a range of matters associated with licences managed by CMOs, including pricing, provision of data about usage of content in reliance on licences, and distribution of licence fees.

The Copyright Tribunal could be given additional jurisdiction to approve a licence scheme that covers works of non-members, having regard to factors set out in the regulatory framework. These factors would include: the benefits of the licence; process for non-members to opt out of a licence scheme; and provision for remuneration of non-members.

Australian CMOs also comply with a Code of Conduct and report annually on their compliance.


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