Conception of a Copyright Platform for Music 

Investigating the feasibility of a decentralised Copyright Platform for Music for the German “Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection” (Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz) - that was the task of one of our student projects in the summer semester 2020.

Project Partners in the Summer Semester 2020: The LSWI and the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection

In the past summer semester 2020, a group of students investigated the feasibility of a decentralised Copyright Platform for Music in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz. Stakeholders ranging from major labels to archives were interviewed in order to gather requirements for developing a target concept for a European, decentralised Copyright Platform for Music (EMR platform).

Issues in the Music Industry

The music industry is facing challenges in the area of copyright due to fragmentation of licensing like plurality of right-holders or different repertoires. Today’s data streams are all digital. This means that every label or publisher has a huge database containing metadata of every song they are promoting. 

Earlier efforts to enhance metadata quality involved initiatives like the Global Repertoire Database, which failed due to a combination of organizational and political aspects. A feasibility for a decentral solution was not examined yet.

Project Approach

In order to gather necessary information in the music industry interviews with key questions including data quality, organisational workflows and power relations in the music industry were taken into account. The goal was to evaluate differences and preferences between stakeholders. 

By analyzing the answers of key questions, must-haves of the EMR platform have been developed and preferences of different stakeholders have been detected and clustered into personas. The personas then have been attached to user stories, to track the potential usage and workflows of the EMR platform.

The result was a concept of the EMR platform as well as next steps.

Project Results

The project results included personas using the platform, prerequisities, general and technical requirements and functions of the platform as well as incentives. 

The project results were presented during the online Copyright Fair “Datenökonomie, KI und geistiges Eigentum” on September 8, 2020. For further details regarding the outcomes, the presentation can be accessed here.

Conference Slides


The four relevant personas as platform users were identified: 

  • Artist - producing, composing and performing songs. 
  • Dealmaker - analyzing, organizing and marketing of Artists. 
  • Collector - cataloguing, tracking and reviewing royality streams. 
  • Provider - providing and digitizing datasets.



Six prerequisities for the platform were identified in order to meet certain standards concerning the current structure of copyright management: 

  • Current power structures of actors should not be influenced
  • The platform should not lead to a shift in power relations
  • Data is stored decentral
  • No central repository is made
  • No monetary transactions are allowed
  • Reciprocity for users to participate on the platform is established


Main functions of the platform

The main functions of the platform contain aspects on the general use as well as interaction between users.

  • Review of metadata quality
  • Rating of metadata
  • Data Search
  • Announcement of Metadata to be exchanged
  • Data Purchase/Sale


Technical Requirements

  • A rating algorithm checking the quality of metadata by giving a score 
  • A matching algorithm connecting stakeholders in order to exchange data 
  • An Artist-ID linking compositions and performances to an artist
  • Usage of the Digital Data Exchange (DDEX) standard in order to make the transfer of metadata simpler 
  • Usage of an input form for non-technical users for transferring metadata 
  • Consistency of data is guaranteed


System Design Concept

Out of the prerequisites, main functions and technical requirements a system design concept was developed addressing stakeholders needs and concerns. 

The platform enables a simplified data exchange, rating of data quality and improving of data sets from users. In order to enable data exchange, the platform provides interfaces to all individual data systems. The interface of the respective system from the individual sends data via the EMR platform to other users. No direct access to data systems between users is given to prevent malicious use. Data requests shall be addressed by the EMR platform, which matches users for data exchange.

Figure 1: Interfaces of System

In addition to the data matching option, an artificial currency unit (EMR-Coin) is introduced to enable more complex data exchanges. Data providing users receive EMR-Coin whereas data requesting user pay with EMR-Coin. Higher data quality increases the worth of the trade. Therefore, data exchanges are adding value for every user and increase the industry-wide data quality. The reason for introducing a currency unit is to simplify the exchange of data and datasets. 

A currency unit enables an attribution of different values to the different datasets and the different dataset qualities. Therefore, it allows conducting unequal trades by compensating users with a respective equivalent value. 

EMR-Coins cannot be purchased financially, they are awarded by sharing data with other users. This restriction shall ensure that no monetary influence is given on the platform. Moreover, it should promote the exchange of data and making the overall quality better.


Regarding next steps, it is recommended that (i) a prototype including test data is built including all mentioned prerequisites, requirements and incentives; (ii) a technical solution for matching and rating algorithm is researched thoroughly; and stakeholders are continuously involved in the process of prototyping (iii). 


The aim of the project was to investigate and discuss a possible decentralized solution to the long-standing problem of efficiently handling metadata in the music industry. 

The project has found that there seems to be common consensus across all given stakeholders in the music industry, that the standardization and enrichment of metadata is necessary and a decentral solution may help solving the issue. Moreover, there seem to exist certain areas of suspense between stakeholders when exchanging and enriching metadata.

The solution proposed, is a decentralized platform for searching and trading music metadata, where everyone will be able to announce their metadata, have them rated and make them available for trade. To simplify data exchange, there will be a custom created currency - the EMR-Coin - instead of fiscal money. Resulting in a streamlining of exchanges between more than two parties and allowing to conduct unequal trades by compensating users with a respective equivalent value. The suggested platform itself should be governed by an independent body, which should however not store any metadata itself. Moreover, the platform should provide an infrastructure in the form of interfaces, allowing users to easily connect the platform.

From left to right: Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Norbert Gronau - Chairholder LSWI; Dr. Martin Schaefer - Lawyer for Copyright at the Copyright Fair “Datenökonomie, KI und geistiges Eigentum” on September 8, 2020.