Collecting Societies

A unique feature of copyright legislation is the existence of licensing and collection bodies. The legislation facilitates licensing bodies and registers them. The collecting societies have the legal right to collect on behalf of members. There are collecting societies in respect of certain categories of copyright.

There is a register of copyright licensing bodies. There are approximately a dozen registered licensing and collecting societies. Most specialise in a particular type of media or copyright.


The Irish Copyright Licensing Agency is promoted by the Irish Book Publishers Association and represents the interests of holders of literary copyright. It licences the use of excerpts from copyrighted material.

The Newspaper Licensing Agency licences the use of excerpts from newspapers.


The Irish Music Rights Organisation IMRO is perhaps the best-known as the music licensing body. It licenses music on behalf of publishers and composers. It is a guarantee company which distributes income to members and overseas bodies. It connects licensing fees from a range of bodies in particular, public houses, hotels, restaurants, and cafes, as well as businesses and others who play music.

The Mechanical Protection Society licences rights to produce musical works itself as a record or in sound form. It acts on behalf of publishers and composers. It deals principally with broadcasters, filmmakers, record companies, importers and various agencies.

Phonographic Performance Ireland represents leading record companies. It licences public performance and broadcasting copyright. Hotels, public houses et cetera will usually also require a performance rights licence. The holder of the sound recording copyright is entitled to equitable remuneration and is not entitled to an unconditional property right.

Recorded Artists and Performers Limited deals with licensing of performers’ rights when they are broadcast or subject to public performance. It deals with remuneration to be paid to performers.

Counter Primacy

Industry bodies promoted by holders play roles in countering piracy and unlawful distribution of works. The more serious breaches of copyright are criminal offences and the bodies may assist the Gardai in detecting and counteracting piracy.

There are special rights by which the Revenue can be requested to monitor imports of pirated material at the point of entry into the State.


The controller approves licensing schemes. It must be satisfied that the body concerned is sufficiently representative of the licensors that it represents. It may permit variations of existing schemes. The terms of the scheme can be referred for review by interested parties.

The Copyright Act provides for dispute resolution by the controller in relation to collective licensing. Where a scheme is in operation a licence claimant or the licensing organisation may refer disputes to the controller. The controller acts on the basis of what he or she considers reasonable in the circumstances.

If a person claims the operator of the licensing scheme has refused to grant or procure a licence under the scheme or has failed to do so within a reasonable time, the matter may be referred to the controller. The controller may make an order on the basis of what is reasonable.

Terms of Licence

The terms on which a licensing body proposes to grant a licence may be referred to the controller by the prospective licensee. The controller may vary or confirm the terms of the licence.

The controller is to exercise his or her powers so as to ensure that there is no unreasonable discrimination between licensees, or prospective licensees, under the scheme or licence to which the reference or application relates and licensees under other schemes operated by, or other licences granted by, the same person.

In considering the charges to be set for a licence, the controller is to take account of the underlying rights relating to the work concerned. The may be more than one class of copyright involved.

Following enquiry, the Minister may make a statutory licence in respect of the educational use of certain works.

Management Organisations

An EU directive on collective management of copyright and related works and multi-territorial licensing of works in the internal market was made in 2014. The directive provides for organisation and transparency of collective management organisations.

A collective management organisation is an organisation authorised by law or by assignment or licence to manage copyright and related rights on behalf of rights owners for their collective benefit. The organisation is to be owned or controlled by members on a not-for-profit basis.

The legislation sets out how collective management organisations are to be organised and how they are to operate. Transparency obligations apply. They must act in the best interests of rights holders.Rules are too set out the terms of membership.

They are to be governed by an assembly of members which is to meet annually at least in relation to an is to deal with the following issues

  • policy on the distribution of amounts due
  • policy on undistributable funds because of untraced rights holders
  • investment policy
  • risk management policy
  • approval of mergers and alliances

The directive provides for multi-territorial licensing for the online distribution of musical works. There are provisions for representation agreements between collective management organisations for multi-territorial licensing. There are incentives for organisations to cooperate with multi-territorial licensing arrangements.

There are mechanisms to deal with refusals of failures of organisations to accede to requests from other collective organisations to enter into representation agreements. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are provided.

Operation of Management Organisations

The operation of the society will be delegated to an advisory body. There are mandatory provisions in relation to the distribution of income. The provisions are designed to prevent discrimination.

The duties of good faith on users and collective management organisations. Licence terms must be on objective and non-discriminatory criteria and provide for reasonable charges. Negotiations are to be on a transparent basis. Decisions are to be made without undue delay. Reasoned statements must be given for the refusal of a licence.

Rights holders must furnish at least annually information on revenue attributed or distributed as well as outstanding revenue or the rights holder.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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