The retransmission of audiovisual works is governed by the Bern Convention, the European Directive 93/83/EEC and national copyright law: any entity which retransmits a protected audiovisual work in the context of its economic activity must obtain the Rightsholder's authorization to do so.
The EU Directive and specific national laws add that a Rightsholder must call upon a collecting society's services instead of exercising his/her rights individually vis-à-vis retransmission operators.
Acting on behalf of Rightsholders, the AGICOA Alliance negotiates licensing agreements with retransmission operators. Thus, retransmission operators obtain the necessary authorization ("license") to retransmit audiovisual works in exchange of a royalty payment.
The licensing agreements typically specify:
- the type of retransmission (cable, satellite, internet, digital terrestrial broadcasting, etc.);
- the type of works (independently produced audiovisual works);
- the TV channels. However, with the proliferation of retransmitted TV channels in the digital age, the AGICOA Alliance has started proposing blanket licensing agreements. These are not limited to a specific group of TV channels but cover the retransmission of audiovisual works on all retransmitted TV channels;
- the AGICOA Alliance's right to ask, in exceptional and limited cases, the retransmission operators to black out the retransmission of a specific audiovisual work (e.g. if the retransmission of a work would result in serious financial difficulties for the Rightsholder who detains the rights on that work).
For retransmission operators, licensing agreements with the AGICOA Alliance have two main advantages:
- through the licensing agreement, the AGICOA Alliance guarantees that the retransmission operator is held harmless against any third party producer claim;
- in many countries, the AGICOA Alliance is joined in its negotiations with cable retransmission operators by other organizations that manage retransmission rights, like broadcasters, music collecting societies, etc. Thus, through one single licensing agreement, retransmission operators can acquire the retransmission rights on audiovisual works, for music and other copyright protected works and performances.