Certain types of copyright-protected works are or can be administered by organizations on behalf of a wide range of copyright owners. These collective organizations may license the use of individual works in their repertoire or of the entire repertoire at once, collect the royalties derived from licensing, and enforce the rights of copyright owners against delinquent users.
Collective administration can offer a number of advantages to both copyright owners and users. For copyright owners, the exploitation of copyright-protected works can be a full-time or arduous job, and so it can be extremely helpful to leave that task to a knowledgeable organization with relevant expertise. Collectives focus on licensing, and so they may have more expertise administering rights than the copyright owners themselves. For users, it is much more efficient to go to one place to obtain licenses for a large number of works rather than to go to each and every copyright owner to seek licensing.
Each collective operates differently, and so it is important to understand the different types of collective administration. Generally speaking, collectives tend to only administer the licensing of a single type of work (e.g. literary works or musical works) and one or small number of rights (e.g. the right to make copies or perform a work). Some collectives may take on ownership of the rights that they administer, while others only act as an agent to exercise rights on behalf of copyright owners.