Collective management organizations in Armenia

It was in 1930 that the “Statutes of Author’s right”, the first document on copyright was adopted in Armenia and the main provisions thereof envisaged the protection of copyright and an adequate remuneration to authors for the use of their works.

The establishment of a body was required for the implementation of this decision - a body that would supervise the use of works after their publication by authors or by their permission, conduct negotiations with user organizations on conditions of use and remuneration, collect the royalties on behalf of authors and their distribution, in other words, to manage the economic rights of authors.

In 1933 the “Haydramcom”, the Armenian branch of Trans-Caucasian Committee of playwriters and composers was established. This was the first organization uniting and representing the authors and it  was protecting the author’s rights, supervising the public performances of dramatic works (plays), dramatico-musical works (operas, operettas, ballet) and musical works with or without words, as well as it was collecting the author's royalties from the user organizations.

 Later, the All-Union Administration for the Protection of Author's rights was established (December,1937) in Moscow , the Armenian branch of which was the above-mentioned «Haydramcom». For many years it was acting as the Armenian branch of the All-Union Administration for the Protection of Author's right. In 1973 when the USSR became member to Geneva's Universal Copyright Convention of 1952, the All-Union Agency on Copyright (AUAC) was established in Moscow, which, in its turn, established branches in all Soviet Republics, including Armenia.

The AUAC, besides protecting the author's rights in the territory of USSR through its branches, it was also representing the multinational culture abroad, contributing to the exchange of cultural values, representing authors' rights and interests abroad and it was protecting the rights and interests of foreign authors in the territory of USSR, concluding license agreements for the use of works. The AUAC was providing its foreign partners with the necessary information on the new works of Soviet Union authors and it was assisting in the dissemination of information on works of foreign authors.

These activities were carried out through its Armenian branch until 1992. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the Armenian branch of AUAC was dissolved. There was a need to create a body that would be responsible for this field and could protect the rights of Armenian authors in the territory of the Republic of Armenia. To this end, the Armenian Government, by its decision N 645 of December 27, 1993, established the National Copyright Agency that was acting until March 2002.

The main objectives of the Agency were the following:

- Protection of copyright and related rights in the territory of Armenia, establishment of legislative framework for the given field

- Collection of royalties and their distribution to authors for the public performance of scientific, literary and artistic works, as well as for the use of works of applied and fine art in the industry, reproduction of works through recordings.

The set objectives did require that the Armenian National Copyright Agency simultaneously would implement two important functions – creation of a new direction for copyright and related rights and its enforcement. The implementation of these two important objectives by one State institution is not common in European countries and in United States. From long ago, about a century, there were separate nongovernmental organizations in Europe and United States, which were collecting the royalties by the authorization of the authors and distributing them to the authors. Anyhow, many post Soviet countries, including Armenia, chose another way which was right for the beginning of 90s. It is impossible to manage the author's rights without having any legal framework. Nevertheless, it would have been irrelevant to stop the collection and distribution of royalties until the establishment of new legislative framework. The Armenian artists, like never before, needed the remuneration for the use of their works. The difficult economic conditions at the beginning and mid 90s urged the composers, playwriters and writers , painters and other artists to approach the newly established Agency, the address of which remained the same even after the dissolution of AUAC and request their royalties. Anyhow, the inclusion of two different functions in one State institution was a necessary condition to preserve the positive aspect coming from Soviet times.

There is another psychological reason for the relevance of creating State Agency. Since Soviet times there was a confidence exclusively on State organizations and some time was required to understand the need of nongovernmental organizations and instill confidence into these organizations. At the end of 90s it was required to separate these to functions and create a new, non commercial, non governmental organization that would deal with the author's rights in accordance with the newly adopted law. This new organization was Armauthor NGO.