“It is very difficult to compete with the Russian and Ukrainian pop music”


Sergey Kukhto, a member of  Confederation of Rightholders` Societies of Europe and Asia (CRSEA), chairman of the Belarusian Society of Authors, Performers and Other Rightholders (BOAIP), the first Belarusian organization for collective management of intellectual property rights, created by the rightholders themselves, told us how creative industries are developing in Belarus and what problems creators face.

– Sergey Alexandrovich, you have a very diverse professional biography. Your experience allows you to take as a whole the situation in which the Belarusian media industry and other spheres of culture are now.

– The media industry in the Republic of Belarus continues to develop, and, to our great regret, this process dragged on. Many factors influence this. First of all, the volume of the advertising market in our country, the interest of consumers in national content, as well as the presence of strong external competitors – our neighbors, Russia and Ukraine. The main players in the local market are state television and radio channels. To a greater extent, they form the taste of the consumer and the market as a whole.

– Are there any quotas in relation to national and foreign content?

– There are certain quotas for music radio channels: 75% of the music content should be  domestic and 25% should be foreign. This order was relevant for the situation in the past, and as for the moment the proportions are not fully respected. The ratio of national and foreign content is now regulated by the decision of the chief editors.

– How are the relationships between the TV and radio companies and copyright holders managed?

– For a long time in the Republic of Belarus, the work in the field of collective management has been carried out by the National Center of Intellectual Property, and it cooperates quite effectively with television and radio channels in the field of copyright.

– What can you say about modern Belarusian music, pop music? What is its share in the music market today? Do you predict an increase in the number of young composers and performers in Belarus?

– I`d say: there is a show, no business. Accordingly, the development of the Belarusian stage is rather chaotic, even the most talented producer in our country will not be able to predict ups and downs. From time to time young performers and composers appear. There are catastrophically not enough space for growth, it is very difficult to win the attention of listeners, and, I repeat, Russian and Ukrainian pop music dominate on our territory. It is very difficult to compete with them, although some authors and performers do.

– In 2016, you headed the newly created organization BOAIP. What goals have been set for that time? What did you manage to implement and what else requires further attention?

– The public association BOAIP was created for wider and more complete implementation of the law of the Republic of Belarus on copyright. NCIS works with authors of words and music. We were created to guarantee other participants in the creative process their right to receive remuneration.

The rights of performers important as well, but in our country they still cannot fully realize them. Over the past few years, partly thanks to our work, a change has been adopted to the current copyright law, which will allow at least to claim remuneration for the performers.

It must be recognized that the list of what still needs to be done is very long. But the most important thing, I believe, is to bring to the attention of people, officials, leaders and consumers of audio content that using music without paying remuneration to authors and performers violates the law of the republic.

– How are relations between the BOIP and foreign collective management societies managing? Are you a member of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC)? If not, are you planning to join?

– Today, CISAC is the most representative and authoritative international organization that unites copyright societies of many countries of the world. We consider the standards of activities for the implementation and protection of copyright developed within the CISAC framework as a guideline for BOAIP. We strive to ensure that the internal functioning of our society as an organization for the management of rights complies with generally accepted requirements, primarily in terms of efficiency, responsibility and transparency in relation to rightholders.

At the same time, we clearly assess our current state and understand that we still have a lot of work ahead. We hope that according to its results, in the foreseeable future, BOAIP will be able to apply for membership in CISAC, which, on the one hand, will contribute to the growth of the credibility of our organization, and on the other hand, it will allow us with a help of international partners that have proved their effectiveness, more actively implement practices for the realization of collective rights management in Belarus.

– Do you use the experience of CMOs from other countries in your organization?

– Yes, we are carefully studying the experience of our colleagues from Russia, we thoroughly know the experience of France and the Baltic states.

– Do you use modern technology to track the use of authors` works? Is there any need for that?

– Such solutions are indispensable . I sincerely believe that the less human participation in the chain the author / performer – consumer, the more effective the work will be, and the more profitable and interesting it will be for both the authors themselves and the consumers of the musical content. There are a number of technologies for tracking products in our market. In my opinion, the Russian company “Formax” has the highest quality solution. And we would be glad to cooperate with this company in the territory of the Republic of Belarus.

I am convinced that with the development of IT technologies the way the societies work in collective management will also change. Today, our country really needs solutions that allow the author or artist to have their own online account for concluding agreements, transferring rights, and tracking the use of their own works.

– The Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (BTAP) has recently enter into force, the difficulties of its’ implementation were discussed on the CRSEA media platform in the first issue of Creative Global Talks. Has the Belarus ratified Beijing Treaty? Has the actor’s community contacted the BOIP to help sort out the possibility of “fair remuneration”?

– It should be noted that the conversation about the Beijing Treaty, which was held in the Creative Global Talks, turned out to be very informative and interesting. This fact alone stands for continuing such professional discussions that help to form a clear understanding of the problems and outline possible solutions based on the experience of partners in other countries. In Belarus, the issue of joining the Beijing Treaty has been postponed indefinitely.

Unfortunately, the main reasons for this lie in the economic sphere. The current Belarusian legislation on copyright and related rights already contains provisions that are actually similar to the norms of the Beijing Treaty. However, the government still prevails the view that joining the BTAP will be an incentive for another category of rightholders to raise the idea of redistributing in their favor a certain share of income from the use of creative industry products. In turn, such changes in the current economic conditions seem inappropriate for decisionmakers so far.

It’s a shame to realize, but the community of rightholders, including its active part, in Belarus has for many years been in a position of asking for attention and support from the state. At the same time, it seems that the time has not yet come for the state to resolve the relevant issues, taking into account the priority interests of copyright holders.

– BOAIP was one of the founders of the CRSEA. What does the phrase“Eurasian integration” in the field of intellectual property mean to you?

– We are proud to be one of the founders of the CRSEA. All CRSEA countries are very different, with different backgrounds. There are no borders for a creative work. We cannot “lock up” a song within one state. Accordingly, the rights of authors, wherever this work may sound, should be maximally realized. The most important component in the field of collective management is the experience, and it is within the framework of the CRSEA we share this experience, helping those who are just embarking on the path of collective copyright management.

I really wish  CRSEA to work more actively in the field of copyright protection. I am convinced that the Confederation should take its place along with other economic and political organizations of the Eurasian Economic Union.