To license copyright works individually is costly and ineffective. For example, the cases of public performance of music and photocopying of published material. To solve the problem they have formed collecting societies or collective licensing bodies. These organisations license certain uses of their works on their behalf. The prominent example of a collective licensing body in Hong Kong is CASH (Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong), which is responsible for licensing public performance of musical works in Hong Kong.
Collecting societies are non-profit making private bodies. The way they operate is for members of the organisation (the copyright owners) to make decisions about, having regard to general law. Copyright owners must generally decide for themselves whether to opt for collective administration or management of their works for any particular uses.
Collective licensing means that a user may be offered a blanket licence covering use of all the repertoire of the collecting society. This also benefits users as they do not need to negotiate a large number of individual licences.
However, collecting societies may effectively be in a monopoly position for some uses of copyright material. An independent tribunal, the Copyright Tribunal, exists to adjudicate on the matter where the collecting society and users or groups representing users fail to agree the terms and conditions of a licensing scheme.
Collective administration bodies exist for licensing, and/or distributing royalties from certain uses of music and sound recordings and printed material.