Do you know what collective licensing is?

Do you know what collective licensing is?

Under Canada’s Copyright Act, content creators have the right to determine how their works are used. But that’s not all. They also have the right to be compensated for that use. The Act makes it possible for creators to benefit from the profits generated by their creations so they can continue their work.

Nevertheless, applying the Act can be complex for both creators and users. That’s why copyright collectives like Copibec exist. We make it easier for users to access content and manage the rights to use or reproduce that content.

Individual rights management

The Copyright  Act allows authors or their representatives to determine how their content will be used. Consequently, users must obtain permission every time they want to use a creator’s content, which involves negotiating and paying the applicable royalties (licence fees) for each use.

Imagine this scenario: You’re in charge of putting together a press review for your company every morning. You scan all the articles that your company’s teams may be interested in. The articles are taken from different magazines and newspapers and the number of articles varies from day to day. If you were to manage the rights individually, you’d have to contact every copyright owner to ask for permission to scan the article and then negotiate a royalty rate and make the payment. The entire process would be repeated every morning.

That type of process could discourage users and motivate them to get around copyright compliance rules by either not using the content at all or using it (illegally!) without paying the creators. In any case, creators and users would be penalized and content diversity would be limited.

Now let’s imagine another scenario. You’re a copyright owner, author or publisher. You receive requests from various schools, government agencies, businesses and public or private organizations that want to use your content. You therefore need to negotiate agreements with each of them, issue invoices and make sure they comply with the licences you issue. You’d probably find that the time and effort involved in that management process drastically cuts into the time available for you to spend creating new content.

Collective licensing (also called collective rights management) is a tried-and-true model. By ensuring access to content and providing compensation for copyright owners, it helps develop and spread our culture and knowledge.

Copyright collectives make it easier

The role of a copyright collective (or reproduction rights organization) is to collectively manage creators’ rights in an efficient way. In Quebec, authors and publishers have come together to create an organization whose mission is to manage their rights: Copibec, which is officially known as the Société québécoise de gestion collective des droits de reproduction.

Thanks to collective licensing, creators can count on the services of a team of specialists. As a result, they can make sure their rights are respected and that they’re paid royalties, while helping to make their content easier to access and distribute. The organizations they create play a valuable role in raising public awareness about copyright and answering questions from copyright owners and the general public.

For users, copyright collectives provide convenient, one-stop service. It’s not necessary to contact each and every copyright owner whenever their content is used. Users can turn to copyright collectives to quickly get permission for one-time use or sign up for comprehensive licences covering an extensive repertoire (catalogue) if they use content frequently.

Copyright collectives here at home and beyond

There are a number of copyright collectives operating in Quebec. Each one manages different types of content and rights. Please refer to our Who to contact page to find out each organization’s mission and contact information.

Since copyright collectives exist in many countries, collective licensing is possible all around the world. Copibec has partnerships with 33 foreign reproduction rights organizations, giving users the opportunity to reproduce content from a variety of countries while continuing to respect the right of creators to earn fair compensation for the use of their work.


On the same topic (in French) in our Did You Know section: Saviez-vous qu’il existe plusieurs sociétés de gestion?