IFRRO World Congress and Annual General Meeting 2018: Connecting the Dots: the Future of Collective Management

Over 180 attendees gathered in Athens in the occasion of IFRRO’s World Congress and Annual General Meeting 2018. Representatives from 86 member organisations across 48 countries attended meetings over the four days (22 – 25 October) of the event, at the Divani Caravel Hotel in Athens.dsc05883.jpg

IFRRO and OSDEL representatives during a press conference to promote the World Congress in Athens - ©OSDEL

The week opened with the IFRRO Board meeting and a special Roundtable meeting for developing and emerging RROs in Europe on Monday. The International Conference with the theme Connecting the Dots: The Future of Collective Management followed on Tuesday. At the International Conference, the keynote was delivered by Sylvie Forbin, WIPO’s Deputy Director General, addressing the topic Copyright and Collective Management in the 21st century. Other thought provoking sessions on new technologies and copyright such as blockchain and Artificial Intelligence were delivered by Matthias Röder, Managing Director, Karajan Institute (Austria); Stratos Tzoannos, Chief Engineer at Athens Technology Center (Greece) and James Gray, CEO, Kortext.img_6121_0.jpg

IFRRO members at the International Conferece - ©IFRRO

The focus then switched to the future of journalism, and Johanna Vehkoo, Journalist and Author (Finland) and Sophia Karakeva, Communication & Marketing Executive, DataScouting and Vice President, FIBEP (Greece), talked about their experiences working in the field and how technology is transforming the profession. The International Conference also offered three different panels where IFRRO members Roanie Levy (Access Copyright), Frederique Couette (Copibec), Piero Attanasio (AIE) and others shared their experience regarding the impact of new technologies on the work of collective management organisations. The three panels were moderated by Tracey Armstrong, CEO, and Babis Marmanis, Executive VP & CTO, CCC (US); Sarah Faulder (Publishers Licensing Services) and Sandra Chastanet (CFC).

On Wednesday, Mrs. Myrsini Zorba, Minister of Culture and Sports of the Hellenic Republic, opened IFRRO’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) giving a speech on copyright and collective management highlighting the importance of copyright as users will always want access to cultural products. She added that copyright should not be considered as a barrier to access and that Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) provide legal access to cultural works. Rainer Just, President of IFRRO, presented the highlights of the annual report to the membership. Other items on the agenda of the AGM were an update on the Strategic Plan 2018-2020, changes to the Guidelines, proposed resolutions and financial matters. Regarding the changes to the IFRRO Guidelines, members attending this year’s AGM agreed to extend to three years the terms of appointment of the Nominating Committee, of the Chair and Vice Chair of the European Group (EG) and of the Chair of all Working Groups and Committees. In addition, a resolution on South Africa was presented and adopted by the AGM. The resolution urges the South African Parliament to protect authors’ rights, support creativity, and to reject proposals that would weaken copyright protection.

The AGM was followed by a Special Session on Copyright, Future Directions, which opened with a presentation about IFLA’s Global Vision and their strategic framework by Gerald Leitner, CEO of IFLA and invited observer to the event. The Special Session continued with a number of speakers discussing the current trends and technologies being used in the publishing industry and the impact on CMOs. Presentations during this session were by Babis Marmanis (CCC), who spoke about the key reasons why RROs should pay attention to technological developments; Adam Suckling (Copyright Agency) who talked about how the Australian RRO is using blockchain in its business; and Sadia Shahid (Taylor & Francis), who spoke to the impact of Artificial Intelligence on Academic Publishing. A panel followed the presentations and the meeting concluded with questions from the attendees.

Also on Wednesday, the IFRRO European Group (EG), discussed current developments in terms of legislation and initiatives in the European Union (EU). The meeting invited Dr Irini Stamatoudi, lawyer, Professor at the University of Nicosia (Cyprus), and former General Director of the Greek National Copyright Office to provide a keynote address. Her presentation was a detailed overview of the work that has been done in relation to copyright and collective management in the EU. Other items on the agenda of the meeting included a panel on the implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty, reports from members and elections. Samantha Holman (ICLA), Valtteri Niiranen (KOPIOSTO) and Robert Staats (VG WORT) were unanimously elected as Chair and Vice Chairs of the EG respectively for the period 2018- 2021.img_6168_0.jpg

Samantha Holman, Valtteri Niiranen and Robert Staats, Chair and Vice Chairs of the EG - ©IFRRO

On Thursday, the final day of the event, regional groups, working groups and fora meetings took place, offering the opportunity to present and discuss topics in more detail. Fora meetings included the Legal Issues Forum (LIF), the Public Lending Right Forum (IPF) and the Equipment Levy Forum (ELF). Working Groups that met in Athens were the Visual Working Group (VWG) and the Newspapers and Periodicals Working Group (NPWG), while the Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, the African Development Committee and the Asia Pacific Committee also held their meetings the same day. An emotive farewell to Christian Roblin, former Chief Executive of SOFIA (Société Française des Intérêts des Auteurs de l’Ecrit), who announced his retirement, took place at the beginning of the Public Lending Right Forum meeting.