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Courtesy of Sacem

French authors’ rights society SACEM has partnered with tech giant IBM to develop a new online music copyright management platform that it says “will help to more effectively identify online rights” for its members, as well as the wider music industry.   
Called URights, the platform will be built and run on IBM Cloud and use IBM’s Hadoop software to better track, analyze and match music and audio visual content across streaming services and user generated content platforms like YouTube. IBM developed cognitive search and content analysis technology will also be used to provide rights holders with extensive data reporting to identify trends and patterns within the digital marketplace.

Work began on URights last year, with SACEM eyeing late 2017 for a full service launch. The organization says the platform is required to effectively track and process the billions of audio files now consumed on a daily basis around the world.   
Last year SACEM tracked over 980 billion download and streaming transactions – almost twice the previous year’s total - on behalf of its 157,000 members, representing over 100 million works worldwide. The growth in scale is reflected in rising collections. In 2016, SACEM distributed around €55 million ($60 million) in online royalties to members and affiliate organizations – a number that is only expected to rapidly grow as the streaming market continues to develop.

“In 2016, we took the strategic decision that we could no longer handle that explosion of big data the way that most [collecting societies] in the world do it, which is do it internally with their own IT resources and investments” Jean-Noël Tronc, CEO of SACEM, tells Billboard of the decision to partner with an external “big player” IT company, in this case IBM. 

“We wanted to establish a solution that would suit our needs, but also one that we could offer to our partners and other players in the industry,” explains Tronc, predicting that the development and introduction of URights will have a double impact on SACEM’s business.

Firstly, it will help them “better identify and therefore collect and distribute revenue for our members.” Secondly, it will improve efficiencies when it comes to tracking copyrights, therefore reducing costs and, once again, meaning higher distributions for members

The fact that the platform is open source will enable other international partners and collecting societies to integrate with URights, reducing duplications when it comes to collecting data, says SACEM.“One of the concerns that I have is that the more solutions and the more societies, the higher the costs are [for rights holders],” says Tronc, noting that “if every society in the world were to develop its own individual IT solutions” costs will raise across the industry.

“We are the only society to externalize our operating tools for online because we believe that we need to share costs and innovation with others. Of course, URights will bring benefits to SACEM members and our partners like Universal Music Publishing International, but we also believe it could also be a major leverage for the industry to share costs and innovation,” he goes on to say. 

“The music and media industries face many complex challenges in the management of copyright materials from music to visual creation,” adds IBM’s general manager of global telecommunications, media and entertainment Industry, Steve Canepa, in a statement.

“The combination of our digital skills, and advanced analytics running on IBM's global, secure hybrid cloud can help SACEM lead the industry to track and capture the value of online music,” he adds, saying the combination of SACEM’s expertise “combined with IBM's advanced solutions” will  “deliver more transparency and efficiency in the protection and monetization of artists’ copyrights.”