Collective Management of Copyrights and Human Rights: An Uneasy Alliance Revisited

Laurence R. Helfer, Duke Law School

Available in the Faculty Scholarship collection.


This essay analyzes the “creators’ rights” provisions of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in the context of the collective administration of copyright and neighboring rights and the policies and practices of collective management organizations (CMOs). It also addresses other human rights treaties and international court rulings relevant to collective rights management. The essay begins with an overview of the ICESCR Committee’s General Comment on ICESCR Article 15(1)(c), “the right of everyone to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.” It then analyzes the key provisions of the General Comment relevant to the collective administration of copyright and neighboring rights. The essay next considers two legal and policy issues with important human rights implications: whether membership in CMOs should be mandatory, and whether CMOs should promote national culture. The essay concludes by evaluating the practical implications of adopting a human rights framework to analyze collective management issues.