Collecting societies are organisations administering collectively the exploitation rights on behalf of authors or holders of related rights. They are advantageous for both users and authors. Otherwise, users of a work would need to obtain a permission of use personally from the author and the author would need to check herself or himself whether an unauthorised use takes place anywhere. Because of the large number of uses of works, this would be barely possible for either side. Therefore, collecting societies conclude standardised contracts with authors and grant licences to users for the whole repertoire at fixed rates. The collecting societies administer the rights not only in Austria, but also abroad. For this purpose, they conclude reciprocal agreements with collecting societies abroad.
In practice, it is difficult even for collecting societies to actually identify every single use. Because of the abundance of uses on a daily basis, in particular via the Internet, it is advisable for authors to check themselves into the uses of their works occasionally and they should always check the statements of the collecting societies for any missing uses, of which the author might be aware. Any mistakes found on the statement can be notified to the collecting society within a given time limit.
Copyright law stipulates that certain remuneration claims may be administered by the collecting societies only. This includes in particular flat rate charges such as the storage media remuneration. In general, however, every author is free to conclude a contract with a collecting society or not.
Collecting societies also serve as interest groups. Because they are rights holders of nearly the global repertoire based on reciprocal agreements, they can act out of a position of strength in collective bargaining.
In Austria, the collecting societies have a monopoly position. The Trade Licence is granted by the regulatory authority – basically only once for a certain field of administration. In order to avoid any abuse of this position, the collecting societies are subject to government monitoring. Furthermore, they have an obligation to contract, which means they have to conclude contracts with users and authors on uniform conditions. Furthermore collecting societies are not for profit. The income – less management expenses – goes fully to the members.
Collecting societies do not administer all rights of use on a trust basis, but only those which the authors individually cannot exercise themselves at all, or only at unreasonable expense. Therefore we differentiate between "small right" and "large right". In the field of literature, recitations (readings) are assigned to the "small rights" segment. Performances, i.e. on stage, of dramatic works as a whole fall within the segment of "large rights".
A similar distinction is made in the field of music. Entire performances of musicals, operas, operettas and the like, i.e., music dramatic stage performances fall with the scope of "large rights". Licences are also granted directly. The broadcasting of music dramatic works via radio and television also falls within the scope of "large right".
Collecting Societies in Austria:
In the field of music:
AKM (Gesellschaft für Autoren, Komponisten und Musikverleger - Society for Authors, Composers and Music Publishers)
Rights of performance and to broadcast
Mechanical Rights (Reproduction)
AUME has now become a subsidiary of AKM.
LSG (Wahrnehmung von Leistungsschutzrechten GmbH - Administration of Related Rights)
Related rights of performing artists and producer of audio recordings
In the field of literature:
Mechanical Rights (Reproduction) of Literature
Rights of citation and to broadcast literary works
In the field of cinematography:
VAM (Verwertungsgesellschaft für audiovisuelle Medien GmbH - Collecting Society for Audiovisual Media)
Administers the rights of film producers
VDFS (Verwertungsgesellschaft der Filmschaffenden Österreichs reg. Gen. MbH - Collecting Society of Austrian Filmmakers)
Administers rights accruing to the authors and actors, not the film producers
In the field of fine arts:
BILDRECHT (Bildrecht Verwertungsgesellschaft Bildende Kunst, Fotografie und Choreografie GmbH - Image Right Collecting Society for Fine Arts, Photography and Choreography)
Administers various rights and remuneration claims of artists
In the field of radio and television:
VGR (Verwertungsgesellschaft Rundfunk GmbH - Collecting Society for Radio and Television Broadcasting)
Administers various rights and remuneration claims of radio and television broadcasting business owners
For further information please refer to the website of the Regulatory Authority for Collecting Societies (http://aufsicht-verwges.justiz.gv.at).