Table of Contents

    If you are on this page, it is undoubtedly because you would like to find reference information on copyright on the FPS Economy website.

    But if you are immediately concerned about finding practical advice and tools to help you solve a concrete problem related to the new accounting obligations of the Royal Decree of 25 April 2014 (French version), we also invite you to participate in the Guidance operation (French version).

    What is a collecting society?

    SABAM, SACD and  SOFAM are some of the collecting societies whose members are the holders of copyright or related rights (performers and producers). With the exception of SABAM, which manages all types of works, they are often specialised in the management of certain types of works (visual arts, documentary works, fiction, etc.).

    Examples of Belgian collecting societies :

    • Sabam, for authors, composers and editors ;
    • Sofam, for authors in the visual domain ;
    • PlayRight, for the related rights of performers ;
    • Simim, for the related rights of producers ;
    • SAJ, for journalist copyright ;
    • Assucopie,  for the reprographic rights of school, scientific and academic authors ;
    • Scam, for the authors of documentary works ;
    • SACD for the authors of audiovisual works and those in the field of performing arts ;
    • Semu, for publishers of music scores.

    Is it necessary to be affiliated to a collecting society ?

    It is definitely not necessary to be affiliated to a collecting society for your works to be protected by copyright. However, affiliation has the advantage of making these rights more effective because, among its different functions, the collecting society ensures that the rights are respected and paid for on behalf of its members.

    Rightholders can therefore become affiliated to a management society of their choice (or not be affiliated to any management society) and entrust it with the management of (all or part of) their rights. However, certain rights cannot be managed by the rightholder themselves. This is the case with legal licences, for which the rightholder must be affiliated with a management company in order to obtain remuneration. You can find more information on the page "Control service of collecting societies for copyright and related rights".

    What do collecting societies do ?

    Collecting societies perform a variety of roles, the main ones being the following.

    Management of members' rights

    Authors, performers and producers can entrust the management of their property rights to a collecting society. In this evet, it is the society of which the author is a member that users must contact to pay the necessary fees  in order to , for example, distributing their works on the radio, on television or on a website, as well as in public places (party, shops, waiting rooms, etc.).

    Then, collecting societies redistribute these fees to their members.

    In this case, affiliation means that members do not have to check how their works are being used, in order to claim payment of the fees from each user. The collecting societies are also a kind of one-stop shop which users can contact to pay the necessary fees. It would be almost impossible to obtain the radio rights or to play music at a party if users had to contact each individual rightholder for the works they wanted to use.

    Rights to remuneration

    The law states that  there are certain types of uses of their works which authors and rightholders cannot oppose. However, they are entitled to remuneration for these uses, the main ones being the following :

    • authors, performers, producers and editors may not oppose the private copying of their works and services, but in exchange are  entitled to remuneration " for private copies "
    • authors and editors may not prohibit the creation of copies on paper, or a similar medium, of their works, if this copy is made for private purposes or for the purpose of making citations, teaching or scientific research. In exchange, they are entitled to remuneration " for reprography "
    • performers and producers may not oppose the radio broadcasting and public execution of their works and services. In exchange, they are entitled to " fair " remuneration
    • authors and editors may not oppose the public lending of their works. In exchange, they are entitled to remuneration " for public public lending ".

    The system organised by law states that it is the collecting societies that distribute this remuneration between the rightholders.

    Other roles of collecting societies

    More generally, collecting societies also work to defend artists.

    In effect, they also enjoy a more beneficial position in negotiations with intermediaries and users, when negotiating with them the conditions for the use of their members' works.

    Last update
    25 June 2024