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Musical Work Copyright Undermined by CMO Provisions in Indonesia

Published on 30 Nov 2023 | 2 minute read
Indonesia's Copyright Law grants exclusive economic rights. Local musicians express concerns over recent CMO provisions.

Indonesia, as a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886), has demonstrated its commitment to safeguarding economic rights in the realm of intellectual property. This commitment is enshrined in Law No. 28 of 2014 on Copyright, commonly referred to as the "Copyright Law."

Article 8 of the Copyright Law defines economic rights as 'the exclusive rights of creators or copyright holders to derive economic benefits from their creative works.' Article 9 paragraph 1 of Copyright Law provides for exclusive rights to publicate, reproduce, translate, adapt, arrange, transform, distribute, perform, publish, communicate, and/or rent the work.

This provision is intended to confer on creators and copyright holders the exclusive privilege to oversee and profit from the commercial use and distribution of their artistic creations, in alignment with international copyright standards. Furthermore, Article 9, paragraph (2) of the Copyright Law stipulates that individuals exercising economic rights must seek permission from the Author or the Copyright Holder.

Recent development in the implementation of the Copyright Law's Collective Management Organization (CMO) provisions has brought about some disquiet among local music creators.  A view expressed by the Indonesia Intellectual Property Office (“DGIP”) is that music creators’ ability to enforce their economic rights is subject to state sanctioned CMO. Under this view, music creators will not be able to enforce their economic rights in the music against payors to the CMO even if the music creator does not sign up with any of the CMOs. 

Support for this view is derived from Article 87 (4) of the Copyright Law which sets out the exemption for commercial use, specifying that it does not constitute infringement, as long as users comply with the obligations specified in their agreement with the Collective Management Organization. This is provision is unique to musical work.

This issue came under media spotlight when two prominent Indonesian musicians, Ahmad Dhani and Once Mekel, got into a dispute over the enforcement of Ahmad Dhani's copyright in his musical composition.

Ahmad Dhani endeavoured to enforce his copyright against Once Mekel, who, as per Ahmad Dhani's claim, frequently performs Ahmad Dhani's music compositions and lyrics in public.  Once, on the other hand, countered that he was exempt from being sued since the venues where he performed have paid up to the LMKN (the National CMO) and therefore acquired the necessary license to perform. Both parties tried to get the view of the DGIP. According to reports, it seems that the DGIP is leaning on the side of the performer rather than music creator. The music creator's argument is that his songs have been taken out National CMO catalogue.  However, this argument did not seem to find favor with the DGIP.  The DGIP's view is that payment to the national CMO provides defense to performance of all musical work.  Such a view would in effect mean that the economic right of the music creator is not exclusive as long as there is a National CMO in place. One view is that the CMO provisions of the Copyright Law is in effect compulsory license, albeit a blanket sort of compulsory license applicable to all music whether or not the musical work has been entered into the CMO's catalogue.

Until there is a definitive court ruling on this, the National CMO will have to be the only royalty source for public performance of their work. This may not be the last word on this issue since the local music industry is naturally a vocal lot.

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