Common Works Registration Software


‘CWR software’ and ‘common works registration software’ are googled more often than any other CWR-related query. And the results are usually disappointing for most.

Based on the feedback of those who contacted us, it seems that their initial expectation was that they would be able to download something, install it and, after a trial period, start paying for it. Or to start using some cloud service, preferably with a trial period. But the reality is a bit different.

Our Software and our Services

We could have released either, but we chose not to, as we do have proprietary tools that would easily be extended to fit either of those descriptions. The fact is that music publishing can be very complex, and a tool to support it must be complex as well. And for those who want to keep things simple, such a tool would be too complicated. They need a simpler tool.

‘Simple’ differs a lot from one potential client to the next. So, it would have to be a complex tool customized to appear simple. Ok, we could do it. We have tried, actually. But then we would get a remark that our tool does not support some feature. Usually, one that our client chose not to use. So we had to re-customize the tool. Again and again. Having clients do their own customizations was even worse. So, for the time being, we have decided not to release such a software as a software. We believe that our services, based on our own software that we use internally, are a far more cost-effective than such a tool would be (or any existing tool is).

We do not licence our software.


There is at least one solution with expensive licences and maintenance that, if configured correctly and used correctly, can fulfil needs of virtually any music publishing company, though the processing might seem a bit long. Especially from a developers perspective. There are few online services that promise a lot of functionality when it comes to CWR. We did not test them, but we do get the ‘CWR files’ exported by them uploaded to our CWR validator by their customers. So far only two had a passable CWR. (We do have a very strict policy about not naming any competitor or substitute, good or bad.) So, there are some options.

Making Your Own

Making your own software is an option. Many have tried, most of them have failed, but it can be done. There are two open source libraries that may help you, APORIA Works Registration and CWR Data API. We have taken a look at both of them and chose a completely different approach, but both projects are truly remarkable.

But still, if you start now, whatever your developers tell you, it will take a long time for you to have a working prototype. It is easier now that there are examples and validation tools we provide since 2017, but still, it will not be ‘ready in a month’.

Under our Hood

We will briefly describe some aspects of our software. If you are a potential client, maybe you would like to know more, if you are looking for a software, maybe this will help you with finding out whether some software out there fits your needs, and if you are a developer, well, then you should read this very carefully.

CWR Library

Python library for Common Works Registration was the first coded part of our music rights software. It is a low-level Python library, although our Data Management Service is based on Django.

When music is being created, the composition and lyrics (the work) come before the recording, or, very rarely, simultaneously. But never after. Thus the first major part of a musical rights management software must be the publishing part. And the first part of the publishing part must be the creation of data needed for registration.

Databases of PROs (societies) must allow import from CWR, although they may allow other means of registration of musical works. As a consequence, our system allows only CWR-compliant data. Strict validation is performed when data is created, edited or imported, without exceptions.

This guarantees that we can always create valid CWR files accepted in all PROs. Using the same data for other relevant systems, such as YouTube’s Content ID, then just comes naturally.

Free CWR Tools

Another reason CWR library was first is that a software needs to be tested as soon as possible in real life situations.

We have repeatedly seen new online services promising and failing. We needed various sources of data in different formats, ranging from single works, simple Excel files to valid and accepted CWR files, as well as faulty ones. So, we devised a set of free tools that are just thin wrappers around our CWR library, fulfilling exactly this need. The fact is that they are unique and are now used by increasing number of people for learning and exploring CWR.

First Services

The third reason is to be able to perform Data Crunching Services that so many publishers need badly. To get their data in order. To create valid CWR files they can send to their sub-publishers or PROs directly. To deal with acknowledgements, including rejects and conflicts. As soon as possible, both to start getting some money in and to learn and collect more data so needed for next phases of development.

Data Management Tool

We have two music publishing tools being built, a ‘full’ one, that is far from being used, if ever. And a limited one, which we use for our Data Management Service. Extremely rarely we have seen data that our ‘limited’ tool could not handle. And usually, we have seen such data because there was a major issue because these ‘special’ features were misunderstood. One such example would be ‘share change’ feature, where collectable shares do not correspond with owned shares of the upstream original publishers. We chose not to do such registrations and not to have clients who would go into such data-twisting adventures. We keep it simple. And by keeping it simple, we keep it affordable.