July 23, 2012

Anti-piracy group caught pirating (surprise!)

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:01 am

Composer Melchior Rietveld won a court case against copyright collection agency Stemra last week over music he wrote for an anti-piracy ad.

TorrentFreak writes:

In 2006, Dutch musician Melchior Rietveldt was asked to compose a piece of music to be used in an anti-piracy advert. It was to be used exclusively at a local film festival. However, when Rietveldt bought a Harry Potter DVD in 2007, he discovered his music being used in the anti-piracy ad without his permission. In fact, it had been used on dozens of DVDs both in the Netherlands and overseas.

In order to get the money he was owed, Rietveldt went to local music royalty collecting agency Buma/Stemra who had been representing him since 1988 but had failed to pay him any money for the anti-piracy piece previously registered with them.

Stemra deliberately kept Rietveld in the dark about the number of DVDs that had the pirated music on them, and initially refused to pay him money. After a lot of nagging Rietveld was contacted by a board member who offered him a fast track to his money if only he would split the loot with said board member.

Rietveld claimed 100,000 euro in damages, but the court only awarded him 20,000 euro (Dutch courts rarely award anything more than ‘proven’ damages), so Stemra now asserts this is a big win for them. Since the government is ultimately responsible for the dealings of the copyright collection agencies, I have my doubts—again—that this will ever lead to a second of jail time for the likes of Stemra.

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February 28, 2011

Copyright vigilantes Brein seize servers illegally

Filed under: Online,Technology by Branko Collin @ 8:46 am

Dutch MPAA representatives Brein have broken the law by removing computer equipment worth hundreds of thousands of euro without a court order, law professor Ton Jongbloed told Tweakers.net last Tuesday. Brein seized 8 servers from hosting provider Al Transa last January.

The Brein foundation claims that the servers contained the warez site SWAN, although its not clear how it reasons that this makes it OK to break the law. Owner Craig Salmond says he will report the foundation to the police for theft, unless Brein gives back his hardware and offers a formal apology. His lawyer added that computervredebreuk, illegal hacking of a computer would also be a possible charge. Internet lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet sees a charge of fraud as more likely to lead to a conviction, whereas the lawyers of IT en Recht are putting their money on a charge of vigilantism.

According to Webwereld, Brein gained the ability to log in to Salmond’s servers before they took the computers. Engelfriet thinks a charge of theft is unlikely to stick, as the maintainer of the 8 computers, another provider called Worldstream, voluntarily handed the machines over to Brein.

On a totally unrelated note, in December 2010 a judge decided to keep a 16-year-old script kiddie another two weeks in jail (by now he has been released) after he allegedly had hacked websites of MasterCard and Visa in retaliation for their treatment of Wikileaks front man Julian Assange. Call it a hunch, but I have severe doubts that we will ever hear of Brein manager Tim Kuik receiving a similar treatment at the hands of his good buddies at the Justice department. I doubt he will even ever spend a second in jail, at least not for copyright related matters. He just doesn’t fit the profile, never mind that the wealthy Brein foundation is in a much better position to make the prosecutor look silly than a gormless teenage high school student is.

(Photo by Malene Thyssen, some rights reserved)

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April 26, 2010

Rights holders’ org wants to legalise music uploads

Filed under: Music,Online by Branko Collin @ 8:55 am

File sharing in the Netherlands shares a strange dichotomy with selling marijuana: acquiring the stuff is completely above board, but distributing it is illegal.

The collecting society for composers and performing artists, Buma/Stemra, has therefore come up with a plan to make uploading music legal, for a small fee paid through Internet providers of course. The society told Telegraaf that research shows users are willing to pay a fee of between 5 and 10 euro a month.

Response to Buma/Stemra’s plans has been varied according to an article by Webwereld. Access providers and representative organisations of consumers and record companies all saw positive sides to the proposal. The only group that has reservations (based on my reading visitor comments at the Webwereld and Telegraaf websites) are listeners themselves.

See also:

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December 3, 2007

Donald Duck magazine takes kids’ money for copyright lesson

Filed under: Comics by Branko Collin @ 2:17 pm
Illustration copyright 2007 Disney.
– Scrooge: Plus a fine for PIRACY! Ten thousand euro, you sneaky thief!
– Donald: M-mercy! I am so sorry! And I finally BOUGHT the original CD!

This week Donald Duck magazine has decided that their customers should be treated to what amounts to a lesson about copyright. In a two page story (issue 49-2007) Huey, Dewey and Lewey download the latest Jan Goudsmid CD, but only so that they can already listen to it until they can afford to buy the real thing. Donald Duck suddenly realises how much money he could make if he bought a 20 euro CD and sold 100 copies at 10 euro a piece, and starts to put his nefarious scheme into practice. But record company owner Scrooge McDuck finds out and puts a stop to Donald’s plan.

Downloading music for private use is legal in the Netherlands, but selling unlicensed copies is not. The over-the-top moralistic tone of the story caught the attention of FOK forum subscribers, who immediately started pointing to the similarities between this story and the Brein foundation’s party line. The dialogue is preposterous at times. Donald: “Why don’t you guys keep this [downloaded copy]?” The nephews: “But that’s not fair! This CD is COPYRIGHTED! If nobody would buy CDs anymore, the record companies and artists would become beggars!” (Remember: the record company is owned by Scrooge McDuck.) One of the FOK forum subscribers: “They used to print »(advertisement)« about items like that.”

Disclaimer: I have written for Donald Duck magazine myself. Although they paid significantly less than the competing Sjors en Sjimmie franchise, it was always fun to write stories for them, simply because they pretty much let you decide what to write. As a result, stories for the magazine may have a tone of voice that implies grown-ups talking down to kids, but typically the stories are just fun adventures. Moralistic tales like this copyright story are rare. Indeed, in the next story of this week’s issue Chip ‘n’ Dale try to break into what looks like a military compound in order to steal nuts. Their three attempts fail because the compound is well secured – even underground – indicating the owners’ unambiguous desire to keep out intruders. But in the end, the two chipmunks luck out, and end up with a mountain of nuts. Moral of that Disney story: crime pays.

Also: the MPAA is a member of Brein. Disney is a member of the MPAA.

Update December 4: Thom Roep (Dutch), Donald Duck’s editor-in-chief, denies to FOK that the Brein foundation is in any way connected with this story, and admits that the dialogue is a little heavy handed for a magazine that dubs itself “het vrolijke weekblad” (the happy weekly):

Specifically the things that the nephews say on page 25, frame 7 [the bit I quoted before – Branko] should have been a lot less goody-two-shoes, and does indeed not correspond to the style of the magazine, which often tries to look at certain situations with a somewhat cheeky wink. We regret it a lot that this story has caused so much irritation and reactions, and we will definitely stay alert to remain a “happy weekly” in the future.

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