Robin Gibb, CISAC President/Bee Gee on World Copyright Summit, Clouds, Threats to PROs (Q&A)
Robin Gibb, CISAC President/Bee Gee on World Copyright Summit, Clouds, Threats to PROs (Q&A)

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Ed. Note: Since Robin Gibb's death May 20, members of CISAC have released statements in tribute to the fallen singer; French painter and CISAC Vice-President Hervé Di Rosa said, "The spirit of Robin Gibb's commitment and passion towards the authors' cause will stay alive in us all. We will miss our friend, and the CISAC creative community will miss its leader."

"Robin has been our President and the voice of CISAC for the past five years and throughout this period we have been blessed by his presence and his infectious enthusiasm," commented Kenth Mulden, chairman of CISAC's Board of Directors. "He took his role very seriously -- we knew we could count on him whenever the principles of authors' rights were under attack. On behalf of CISAC, and in the name of the whole creative community that he so brilliantly represented, I would like to offer our deepest and most sincere condolences to his wife Dwina and to his family. We will miss him immensely; we will miss his energy, his dedication to the cause of authors and, most of all, I will miss his friendship."

This story originally ran June 10, 2011 on Billboard.biz.

Robin Gibb, perhaps best known as one of the Bee Gees, is also the President of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), which just held their third annual World Copyright Summit in Brussels this past week (June 7 and 8, 2011). Gibb graciously spoke to Billboard.biz in the middle of the summit to address the future of the creative copyright, the growing cloud storm and threats to performance rights organizations.

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Billboard.biz: Tell us about your role as President of CISAC?
Robin Gibb:
My presidency at CISAC is something I'm very passionate about and I've been doing for the last four years. There are very important issues right now regarding advancing technologies, authors' rights, intellectual property and making things fair and better for everybody in the future.

For this World Copyright Summit, what key issues that are on this agenda that weren't two years ago in Washington?
There's always key issues that don't go away. But we're chipping away at the stone, we've had some turnaround in major territories around the world, but there are still major issues to tend to in the big markets, like the U.S., the UK and Europe. The majority of the major popular music in the last 50 years and today is churned out of the U.S., U.K. and Ireland. It seems that some countries -- especially the UK and Ireland -- are being punished by countries not producing that kind of music.

Which countries are leaders in copyright reform and protection in the digital economy and which need to step up?
Copyright reform in countries like India, which is a huge market for film and the music industry, have turned around. Almost overnight India began to comply with what we were seeking. There have been other countries, too. France in particular, is a model other countries are emulating.

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One of your speakers is Ivo Josipovic, the President of Croatia, who himself is a composer which must give him incentive for increasing copyright protection?
Every President should be a composer.

What has been your experience in the Bee Gees with piracy and copyright?
I'm not doing this for the Bee Gees because the Bee Gees have one of the biggest song catalogs in the world. Not many people are producing big catalogs today. They are very rare and take years to produce. But there are many many millions of people who don't have big song catalogs orwho don't have major pieces of work that actually have their rights taken away from them. What we're trying to do is get a fairer deal for all intellectual property ideas and creative authors rights.

What would you tell young people who are composing and performing their own work?

The important thing is to give young people the encouragement to compose and create the big song catalogues of tomorrow without feeling that they're not going to be in control of their work. That's the backbone of tomorrow's industry.

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Based on the first day's agenda at the summit, did anyone raise solutions that stuck out for you to take back to CISAC members?
By and large, everyone agrees with what we're doing; we're quite united and more people are actually starting to walk than just talk - which is where we were two years ago in Washington. Now, we're actually getting action in a lot of different spheres. But there's a long way to go and the landscape is constantly changing. There has to be some kind of permanence in protecting people."

Cloud services is one of day two's topics, what does that mean for rights owners and tech companies?
It's not just about one particular issue. There's a continuity here that runs through, -- much like the film industry -- protecting authors rights and intellectual property. It isn't just about a particular piece of technology that's changing the landscape, because that's always going to happen. But there has to be something airtight and solid that carries us into the future and will not only protect people but also give them the encouragement and incentive to create.

EMI Music Publishing is taking digital licensing, previously handled by ASCAP, in-house. Do you think such a move by the music publishers will affect the future of Performing Rights Organizations?
All I can say is collective management is the way forward with societies. That's all I have to say because otherwise it just gets too complicated. We just know that collective management is the only way.

What will you be saying at the closing keynote address?
I'm going to cover much of the same ground we've done for the last couple of years and mention the progress we've made and why there are reasons to be cheerful -- and there definitely are. It's onwards and upwards. It's a positive address. We are in a far better position than we were two years ago, but there's not a reason to sit down and stop.