Welcome Address By Ms Rahayu Mahzam, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry Of Health And Ministry Of Law At the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO) Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting
13 Apr 2023 Posted in [Speeches]
International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations President Ms Tracey Armstrong
Copyright Licensing & Administration Society of Singapore CEO Mr Andrew Fong
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Allow me to thank IFRRO and CLASS for the invitation, and for the opportunity to meet all of you here today.
I. WHY COLLECTIVE MANAGEMENT MATTERS
2. In 2020, Singapore’s creative sector employed a total of 24,700 people and generated an estimated nominal value-add of $1.4bn on total operating receipts of $5.7bn. Of this, the publication, distribution, and sale of books alone —
(a) Employed 5,500 people, and (b) Generated $341m in nominal value-add, (c) On total operating receipts of $1.2bn.
3. These are impressive numbers, considering that they were from the height of the pandemic.
4. But these numbers don’t show the full picture. They don’t capture the contribution of local writers and the enabling impact of local publishers; and they don’t reflect the ways in which Singaporeans make use of and benefit from printed matter.
5. This value is not easy to capture on a balance sheet: how do you quantify the value of having books and stories about our home? Or the value of being able to share and distribute reading materials to a classroom of children?
6. Likewise, these numbers also don’t illustrate the impact of collective management organisations such as CLASS, or of IFRRO’s contribution to Singapore and to the region.
(a) CLASS helps ensure users can obtain licences to suit their needs, while providing creators and rights-holders with new sources of revenue. They help pay authors and provide funds to reinvest in new works. (b) And by facilitating international linkages between national CMOs, IFRRO helps ensure that this system crosses borders, and that works can be used and paid for all over the world.
7. CLASS and IFRRO enable and monetise a wide range of possible uses of copyrighted works and materials. You and your colleagues here today play an important role in making the copyright system work, for both rights-holders and users alike.
II. HOW THE GOVERNMENT IS SUPPORTING THE SECTOR
8. MinLaw and IPOS have long recognised the crucial role played by collective management organisations, and the need for them to function transparently, accountably, and efficiently for the sake of both rights-holders and users.
9. We have received feedback over the years, from both rights-holders and users, that regulation is needed — for instance, to improve transparency over what works are administered, how rates are set, and how royalties are distributed.
10. To support our creative industries and user groups, MinLaw and IPOS have been working for some time on a new class licensing scheme for CMOs to strengthen their internal governance and their relations with both rights-holders and users of copyrighted works.
11. In devising our proposed licensing scheme, we considered the experience of other countries and took reference from the World Intellectual Property Organisation Good Practice Toolkit for CMOs, and its many examples of legislation, regulation, and codes of conduct for collective management of copyright.
12. The most recent round of public consultations was just held in November 2022, and we will continue this work together with all stakeholders.
III. CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN NEW TECHNOLOGIES
13. Over the past three decades, digital technologies have radically changed and are continuing to change how works are created, distributed, and used.
14. These technologies have been immensely beneficial but have been confronted by copyright rules that never anticipated them.
(a) For instance, search tools such as Google Books have been immensely useful, but because they require the making of digital copies, they cannot legally exist without some sort of accommodation from rights-holders and from the copyright system. And it took a decade before the US courts eventually ruled that Google Books’ uses of copyrighted works were non-infringing fair uses. (b) Other areas, such as digital lending, are still developing today, and the framework to licence and enable these uses is still being fought over abroad.
15. As each new way of using copyright works emerges, it presents a challenge, but also an opportunity, for rights-holders and CMOs.
(a) Fair, practical, and reasonable licensing terms can accommodate and unlock the value of these new technologies and uses, while delivering revenue to rights-holders. (b) Conversely, a failure to do so can lead to these new possibilities withering on the vine, to everyone’s detriment.
16. It’s worth learning from the experience of the music industry, which faced its own challenges and opportunities with digital copies, piracy, and changing business models.
(a) In 1998, the Recording Industry Association of America sought to prevent the sale of one of the first commercially successful MP3 player devices, the Rio. The lawsuit did not succeed. (b) At the time, global recorded music industry revenues stood at US$22.3bn, entirely due to the sale of physical copies. Since the industry relied entirely on and was built around the sale of physical copies, it was all too easy for the industry to see digital as an existential threat to its business. (c) Compare this to 2022, when the recorded music industry reported global revenues of US$26.2bn. i. US$17.6bn, or two-thirds of all revenue, comes from music streaming alone. ii. An additional US$2.5bn, or just under 10%, came from performance rights. iii. Physical sales now only account for US$4.6bn, or under 20%. (d) This transformation was not easy. It took years for the initial resistance to be overcome, for the industry to figure out new business models that worked, and for things to turn around and for revenues to grow again. But the industry is now benefiting from it, and even seeing double-digit gains as it capitalises on new markets and new licensing opportunities. (e) And with today’s music streaming offers, the public now has access to a much wider range of music, on much better terms, than ever before. It’s quite possible that the world would have had none of this if the RIAA had succeeded in blocking the sale of the Rio and other hardware MP3 players back in 1998.
17. Change is often threatening and uncomfortable, but it brings new opportunities as well – opportunities to innovate, to do things better, and sometimes even to do something completely new.
18. Print media is not recorded music, and the publishing sector faces its own unique challenges. But I hope that all stakeholders in the copyright ecosystem will be able to work together and capture these opportunities.
19. I wish all of you an enjoyable and productive meeting, and we look forward to seeing the fruits of these discussions within the industry and beyond.
Last updated on 13 Apr 2023