SACEM (the French collecting society for authors and composers) and Creative Commons have announced the signing of an agreement on January 9 2012 which establishes a new pilot project to be conducted for an 18-month trial period that officially started on January 1 2012.

The agreement allows SACEM members to promote their work in a non-commercial environment for the first time.

Creative Commons, an organisation founded in 2001, offers several copyright licences which allow creators to authorise in advance the free use of their work under certain conditions.

Previously, SACEM – which protects musical creation and administers the work of its members by collecting royalty payments and distributing them to creators and publishers of music – did not allow its members to apply for Creative Commons licences, as SACEM requires that it be the exclusive administrator of their rights. Authors who wanted to authorise the free use of their works under certain conditions had to administer their rights themselves.

After a first meeting between SACEM and Creative Commons in 2004, eight years of negotiations were necessary to achieve this agreement, which adapts the collective management of copyright to the realities of the Internet and social networks frequently used by artists to promote their work.

Artists can now benefit from SACEM remuneration for the commercial exploitation of their creations while also – if they choose – promoting their works in a non-commercial environment through one of three non-commercial Creative Commons licences:

  • the non-commercial licence, which enables third parties to modify the work and allows them to distribute the second work in a commercial environment;
  • the share alike non-commercial licence, which enables third parties to modify the work and allows them to distribute the second work in a non-commercial environment; or
  • the no derivative works non-commercial licence, which enables third parties to upload the work and share it under the name of the author.

For any commercial exploitation of the creations, SACEM will continue to collect and distribute royalties.

However, the line between commercial and non-commercial exploitation is thin. For example, a website that displays a creation under a Creative Commons licence is not allowed to publish banners that generate income, so as to respect the conditions of the non-commercial environment. The trial period should give SACEM and Creative Commons the time to identify and solve this kind of issue.

At the end of the trial period on June 30 2013, if SACEM decides not to continue the project, its members will no longer have the option to use Creative Commons licences. However, works that have been placed under the pilot project will continue to be subject to it.

Thus far, about 500 million creations have been placed under the Creative Commons regime around the world. In Europe, Creative Commons has already signed similar agreements with the collecting societies of Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, and hopes to sign agreements in other jurisdictions in order to meet the needs and expectations of many more creators.

For further information on this topic please contact Lysa Halimi at Nomos by telephone (+33 01 43 18 55 00), fax (+33 01 43 18 55 55) or email ([email protected]).