News Update 12/2019: The Year in Review

In this news post we’d like to inform you about:

  1. Our new statutes
  2. Funding by the Prototype Fund
  3. Election of the new administrative board
  4. Progress on our way to approval
  5. Attack on our website
  6. C3S at 36C3

Our new statutes

The general assembly has adopted new statutes on 23rd of June 2019. These statues are the result of about two and a half years of discussion with the Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt (DPMA, German PTO) after the Verwertungsgesellschaftengesetz (VGG) came into effect in the spring of 2016. Detail changes became so numerous that we adopted new statutes instead of a confusing collection of change requests. You will find the new version here:

When we worked out our original statues the now obsolete Urheberrechtswahrnehmungsgesetz still applied. With the VGG came a series of new norms which have to be governed in the statutes of a collecting society. The update of our statues addresses these new requirements without changing the character of the original statutes.

Did we really address all issues? Unfortunately not, the discussion with the DPMA has not been concluded on one central issue: How to handle legal entities (e.g. music publishers)? We have started with the aim to establish a collecting society for natural persons only, people who are themselves directly involved in the creative process. Ideally, we want to represent the rights of those people who compose, text and make music. Form our point of view, users of music rights may be guided by interests that conflict with those of the creators of music. This group of copyright holders should ideally organize themselves in a different collecting society, to avoid internal strife between different interest groups in a collecting society.

The VGG forbids discrimination in regard to whether a person is natural or legal in the management of rights. Therefore a collecting society can not choose whose rights it represents, it has to admit all on fair terms. For the DPMA an exclusion of legal entities is problematic if they hold utilization rights which we administrate for our members. This would also imply participation in internal decision making processes for legal entities. The challenge for us is therefore to implement VGG-compliant utilization of rights without allowing companies to gain control of our cooperative. For more details on this tricky issue we’d like to point you to the last episode of our podcast “Cultural Comments”.

But the new statutes also include improvements that we ourselves have wished for. Here we would like to mention above all the new possibility of participating in the decisions of a General Meeting in advance by postal vote. In addition to the legally prescribed possibility of electronic participation, which is linked to the time of the meeting, we hope to place the decision-making processes on as broad a basis as possible. In order to obtain this co-determination option we brought the revision of the statutes forward without having finally solved the above mentioned issue. If we have to decide on possible solutions which are contrary to our previous positions, all members should be enabled to vote without having to attend a general assembly.

Regarding to this unsolved issue a call to the legal experts among you: We can’t have enough legal expertise in our team! If you find our project exciting and would like to get involved yourself, please contact us!

Funding by the Prototype Fund

From the beginning of September until February of next year our software developers are working in a project for online licensing of musical works, which is funded by the “Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung”. Details can be found here:

Therefore the second betatest phase of the repertoire management module had to be postponed, but if all goes to plan, we can test it in interaction with the licensing and accounting module in the spring of 2020. With this we would have everything together on the technical side to represent basic operational sequences of a collecting society.

Election of the new administrative board

Additionally our administrative board (AB) was reelected as per schedule at the General Assembly in June. Historically, in the first time after our founding the AB was identical to the active team advancing the project. When we needed more flexibility to involve volunteers we restructured: the substantive work is done by a core team consisting of the AB and volunteers; the AB focusses on the formal necessities like official decisions and supervision of the cooperative. Following the principle of meritocracy, candidacies for the AB usually arise from the circle of the core team. The term of office is three years.

Members of the new Administrative Board are Christoph Scheid, Elmar Schuck, Johanna Breuckmann (deputy chairwoman), Julian Tillmann, Meik Michalke, Oliver Dietle, Stephan Fritzsche (chairman) and Thomas Mielke.

Progress on our way to approval

We are making slow but steady progress on our way to approval. After the previous focus on statutory issues, the DPMA now requests a current business plan. This plan outlines the expected development for the first few years after approval, taking into account membership development and tariff segments in which we want to be active at any given time.

We are sticking to our plan to offer tariffs only one by one. Which tariffs we have in our program right at the start depends on the time of approval — we have a draft live tariff and are working on two additional tariffs. But a tariff can only be put to practical use when the infrastructure for notification and accounting of uses is in place.

In order to start our actual collecting activities, we will in any case have to abruptly finance a small workforce of employees because a company of this size cannot be continued reliably enough on an honorary basis. It is very obvious how much time it takes sometimes before we reach milestones only doing work in our spare time. Therefore, when it comes to fundraising, we could use some more competent support. If you are experienced in fundraising and are looking for an exciting challenge with the prospect of brilliant karma, our team is the right place for you.

Attack on our website

Anyone who tried to visit our homepage in mid-October was redirected to an external website unrequested. The reason for this was an attack on a plugin of our content management system, which successfully exploited a weakness that had been published a few days earlier. We took the website down immediately and analysed the server in depth. The attack, its consequences and recommendations on improvements on administrative and infrastructural levels were documented in a 41-page report. We have initialized the implementation of the recommended steps.

Thanks to encrypted passwords and strictly separated services the damage was minimal: No person-related or similar data was affected. Nevertheless such an incident is very annoying and causes unnecessary work (extra night shifts for admins, day-long analysis, set up of new servers from verified backups). Not to mention the impression it makes on the outside. We take this very seriously and would like to deal with it transparently, because what matters to us is how such an incident is dealt with. We were also able to draw valuable information from this, e.g. which measures have already prevented greater damage, and of course also what we can still optimize to make successful attacks even more difficult in the future.

C3S at 36C3

After GEMA vs. C3S im 36c3-Designa long (baby) break the C3S will again be present with an assembly at the Chaos Communication Congress. The 36C3 is taking place 27th to 30th of December in Leipzig. Come by and get first hand information about the current status of C3S or let our developers give you an overview of our current software projects. You can find us in the about:freedom orbit.


Category: NEWS, Update

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