Collective Management Organization: A New Regime for Copyright Licensing Bodies in Malaysia

The Copyright (Amendment) Act 2022 (“Amendment Act”)[1] that came into force on 18th March 2022 brought a number of reforms to the Malaysian copyright law. One of the key changes is the introduction of the new collective management organization system.

Prior to this amendment, the Copyright Act 1987 (“CA 1987”) empowered licensing bodies to represent and administer the rights for groups of copyright owners, typically granting licenses to third parties and collecting royalties on behalf of the copyright owners. With the recent amendment, “licensing bodies” has been renamed as “collective management organizations” (“CMO”) in line with international practice. Notwithstanding the new terminology, the function of a CMO remains about the same, namely as a licensing body for copyright owners, authors or performers.[2] A more significant change caused by the new definition of a CMO is perhaps the change of the form of the licensing body from a “society or organization” to a “body corporate”.[3] A body corporate, for the purpose of CMO, is defined as “a company limited by guarantee incorporated under the Companies Act 2016”.[4] Therefore, only companies limited by guarantee may apply to be declared as a CMO, in contrast to the previous position where any society or organization could make such application. It is also worth noting that the Amendment Act has set a term limit of two years to each declaration of a body corporate as a CMO, subject to renewals.[5] Previously, one could be declared as a CMO indefinitely. Finally, the Controller of Copyright is now empowered to issue “guidelines on any matter relating to the declaration and operation of a collective management organization” which are binding on the CMOs.[6]

In support of the amendments, the Copyright (CMO) Regulations 2022 (“Regulations”) were introduced by the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs. The Regulations that also came into force on 18th March 2022 had revoked the Copyright (Licensing Body) Regulations 2012 that was previously in use.[7] The Regulations provide that any pending application for declaration made under the revoked regulations shall be dealt with in accordance with the provision of the new Regulations.[8] Under the Regulations, an application for a declaration as COM shall be made to the Controller in Form CMO-1 of the Second Schedule together with a list of supporting documents and the fee specified in the First Schedule (RM20,000.00).[9] If satisfied that the applicant is fit and proper to be a CMO, the Controller may issue a declaration to the applicant and such declaration shall be valid for two years from the date of declaration.[10] Some other provisions that could be found in the Regulations are provisions that elaborate on the renewal[11] and revocation of declaration.[12]

This article is only intended to provide general information regarding the recent copyright law reforms. If you wish to find out more about your IP rights, please do not hesitate to consult us.

[1] Act A1645.

[2] CA 1987, s 27A(1).

[3] Khong, D. W. K. (2022). The Copyright (Amendment) Act 2021 of Malaysia. Asian Journal of Law and Policy, 2(1), 33–38.

[4] CA 1987, s 27A(9).

[5] CA 1987, s 27A(3).

[6] CA 1987, ss 27M and 27A(6)(cc).

[7] Regulation 7.

[8] Regulation 8.

[9] Regulation 2.

[10] Regulation 3.

[11] Regulation 4.

[12] Regulation 5.