Where to Start?

Last week, a new co-worker started. She would be working on music publishing copyright services. We believe that the only good place to start learning is at the beginning of the process, and in copyright, that means musical work registrations.

We don’t do manual registrations, as they are ineffective. Our clients send us data in EBR or some other CSV or Excel-based format. With our strict no-garbage-in policy, data has to be CWR-compliant before the import into our system. And that means manual editing in LibreOffice Calc. The challenge is to know what is wrong or missing. And, in the end, it means understanding CWR. Really well.

So, she had to learn a lot. About publishing, copyright, writers, publishers, and various file formats, including CWR. At the end of the first week, she asked: “Wait, in other companies who are doing this, people don’t learn CWR? How do they do it then?” Well, after laughing for a long time about the first question, we came to the second.

The answer is “not well”.


You may be puzzled by some of the terms used so far, so a quick glossary before the story is continued:

Comma-separated values file stores tabular data (numbers and text) in plain text.
Common Works Registration is a very complex format for batch works registrations used by collecting organizations worldwide, see Introduction to CWR.
CWR-compliant data
A dataset that can be converted to CWR, having all the required data elements in a correct form
Electronic Batch Registration is a format used by Musicmark for batch work registrations at ASCAP, BMI and SOCAN
an alphabetical list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge with the definitions for those terms
LibreOffice Calc
a free open-source alternative to MS Excel


Many details are covered in other articles.