Collection Society for Passive Use of Visual Media (part 1)

Next month at CEPIC there will be a discussion held over the initiative/proposal for a new collective licensing model, one which argues for fair compensation to rights holders for the passive use of visual media on social domains. European delegates at CEPIC will have an immediate familiarity with reprographic rights organizations over their non-European counterparts, so the proposed model might be less of a leap in their understanding than for others.

While the basic model for the collecting society for passive use is cousin to a European reprographic rights model, its direct inspiration comes from earlier collection societies in music, including ASCAP and BMI in the US. It’s not the methods of surveying or royalty distribution that is a source for modeling, but the concept of passive use and its differentiation against active consumption.

Active consumption is the point at which a consumer seeks to obtain certain rights for a work from a rights holder, which is analogous to direct licensing. The marketplace for licensing of visual media is built on the exchange/transference of rights for specified uses. There are complexities within this market, but the core principle is the same and the intended use (for commercial or editorial) requires deliberate acts – an “active consumption”.

Passive consumption is the antithesis of active consumption. It is use where the rights holder is not party/privy to consumption, but more importantly the nature of consumption is not a deliberate act – the use falls outside of a commercial or editorial context that defines active consumption. There are aspects to passive use that can be interpreted as infringing use, since the rights holder did not allow or transfer rights to the host and/or consumer.

What is most egregious is the value around passive use, and how that value is locked up and inaccessible to rights holders. A tremendous amount of valuation within consumer technology industries has been at the expense of growth within the content industries – the very content that drives adoption and participation (and passive use) is not recompensed and is often expunged of information that might help link back a user to a rights holder.

With our marketplace defined by activity with active consumption, it leaves a large gap to address with passive consumption. How to participate effectively in monetizing this activity? Within the rights holder community, which includes PACA, ASMP and other organizations that look after the interests of rights holders, participate in building a collective license relevant to key licensing prospects (large aggregators/social platforms) that enables them to freely host and leverage the rights holder’s content to further provide value, and give them warranties against infringement. Establishing a sustainable ecosystem of user consumption – whether passive or active – is key for mutual success.

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