Last year, OSA celebrated 100 years of its existence. However, I dare to say that despite its age it is in great condition. Although 2019 was a year of retrospection over OSA’s right and remarkable history, we looked towards the future with equal intensity in the course of the year. It was instructive for all of us to descend to the roots on which OSA is stands as a functional and modern institution. We look to the past without embellishments. A prospective future can only be built on a history that we do not colour or modify to match our idea. Yes, OSA went through some dark time. During the Nazi era, we faced attempts at our dissolution in favour of the Reich’s STAGMA organisation. During socialism, on the other hand, political affinity was more important than actual talent. But throughout its hundred-year history, it was more than just a society that collects copyright royalties and subsequently pays them to authors and publishers. Since its foundation, it has been and remains one of the key pillars of mutual solidarity among authors. OSA always helped authors who found themselves in difficult situations in life. We continue to fulfil this dimension to a significant extent at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world. Within one week from the declaration of a state of emergency, OSA paid out solidary financial assistance worth CZK 4.5 million to authors who were directly affected and lost their work virtually overnight due to the cancellation of all musical events.
In terms of collection, 2019 was the most successful year in history. OSA collect 1 billion 119 million Czech crowns for authors of music. After many years of negotiation with TV Nova, a settlement for past periods was achieved and an agreement on the business terms for 2019 and coming years was reached. Last year, we concluded an agreement with the Chamber of Commerce, which encompassed negotiations on the business terms with broadcasting operators. We still manage to maintain a cost to fee collection ration of 12%, which ranks us among the most economically effective music copyright organisations in Europe.
Our activities are governed by three basic principles: 1. To pay fees to authors and publishers as promptly and accurately as possible; 2. To maximally simplify the acquisition of licenses to use musical works; 3. To develop projects focussed on supporting new domestic music production.
We strive to follow modern trends and we hope to stay among the leaders on the collective management market. OSA has become an attractive address even for foreign partners. This is because we are transparent and among the fastest in Europe to pay copyright fees! We are testing billing on a monthly basis. We have invested in a new economic system with the hopes of migrating the monthly billing from 2021, at latest 2022.
Keeping overhead costs consistently low is not a simple task. Every year, OSA pays royalties to an increasing number of rights holders. Only last year, there were more than 200,000 authors and publishers from around the world. The fragmentation of music use continues. Millions of hours of music go through the OSA system every year, reported by broadcasters, music carrier retailers, concert organisers, services such as Spotify, Apple, Google, Facebook and Netflix. This requires considerable investments into the automation of data processing.
The creation of a single collection point for all collectively manager in 2018 was warmly welcome by music users. Last year, we took user comfort to another level by launching an e-shop together with the new website. Restaurant or store operators can purchase a license to play music via the internet, and pay immediately via the payment gateway. It’s fast and easy. We will be expanding this function to include organising concerts.
The scars of COVID-19 and consequence of the state of emergency will be slow to heal. Nevertheless, our employees are working daily to make 2020 a financially respectable year for our authors following the highly successful year 2019. I would hereby like to praise their work, for which they deserve my immense gratitude. In cooperation with the OSA supervisory board, we are seeking ways to help authors not only in difficult life situations, but also support projects which are a breeding ground for new domestic production. I believe the result will be new inspiring formats and projects, which will not only bring the music scene back to life but also offer new opportunities. However, this will be very difficult without effective help from the state and mutual society-wide solidary and tolerance.
Copyright creation in the unstable era of the internet, which brought about massive piracy due to the anonymity of cyber-space, is on the brink of another challenge. That is artificial intelligence. Only time will tell whether it will be a help to authors, or become a direct rival in the competitive battle. Culture is the fingerprint of individuals and entire nations. We must not give up on humanity and the human spirit in this battle. Despite its scope, culture is a very fragile vessel, closely linked with many other fields and professions.
We are convinced that OSA is entering a new century with humility, but full of healthy determination to face these challenges.
Chairman of the Management Board