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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November 17, 2010

Copyright collection agency to charge for embedding after all

Filed under: Film,General,Music,Online by Orangemaster @ 7:57 pm

In December 2009, after a wave of criticism from the media and beyond, Dutch copyright collection agency Buma/Stemra (B/S) decided to back off on its plans to make people pay for embedded music streams. However, today they announced that they will go ahead with their plans after all. According to B/S logic, embedding music is another form of ‘rebroadcasting’, which require licences. Buma/Stemra will start charging for music streams and video streams like YouTube, all of which will be confirmed soon. According to Tweakers, last year the projected rates for embedding videos with music were lower than embedding music streams — why, nobody knows.

They also say they won’t bug private persons, just companies. We’ll see.

In other copright news, a court in The Hague has ruled that downloading copyrighted material without permission of the rights holder is permitted as long as it’s a copy for home use. There was some doubt as to how copyright law should be interpreted on this issue, but not anymore. Read more about it in Dutch from our friendly neighbourhood Internet legal expert, Arnoud Engelfriet.

(Link: tweakers)

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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 27, 2009

BUMA/Stemra puts blogger’s tax off for a year, closes deal with YouTube

Filed under: Music,Online by Branko Collin @ 9:22 am

BUMA/Stemra has decided not to pursue its blogger’s tax of 160 euro per 6 embedded songs for 2010. At the same time, the collecting society for composers and performing artists has closed a deal with Youtube, allowing the Google daughter to serve videos containing music to a Dutch audience.

After a storm of protest, BUMA/Stemra cancelled its tariffs for non-commercial users earlier, leaving blogs like 24 Oranges in the cold, because we run Google ads. Now Webwereld reports that commercial users will also be exempt for one year, while BUMA/Stemra tries to iron out any legal glitches. I guess that is a step forward from past practices, where the society would start lawsuits against pretty much anyone and use the resulting jurisprudence as either law, or as a springboard for further lawsuits.

Music Week reports that the new licensing agreement covers “professional or user-generated video hosted on and streamed via YouTube in the Netherlands.”

Odd, then, that I still come across notices now and again that music has been removed from a clip after complaints by somebody pretending to be a rights holder (typically one of the Big Four). Let’s see how this will pan out in 2010. My guess though: Google will be paying lots of money for nothing in return.

Meanwhile the union for musicians, Nederlandse Toonkunstenaarsbond, has urgently requested that BUMA/Stemra apologize over the heavy-handed manner in which it introduced its tax for embedded videos. Chairman Erwin Angad-Gaur fears the society’s tactics have damaged the reputations of musicians. He told VPRO’s 3 Voor 12: “Musicians are not against copyright fees, to the contrary. But we do want more flexibility.” For instance the flexibility to decide they want money for certain songs only.

(Still of a video by Orangemaster.)

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October 3, 2009

Buma/Stemra charges bloggers 130+ euro for YouTube vids

Filed under: Music by Branko Collin @ 1:42 pm

Collecting society Buma/Stemra is after Dutch bloggers now. Starting in 2010 you must cough up 130 euro for every six music videos you embed in your web page, according to Madbello (Dutch).

Buma/Stemra is a copyright collecting society for composers. It makes use of a feature of Dutch copyright law that says that negotiating licenses and royalties is too cumbersome for some forms of creative works, and that therefore collecting societies can be set up that charge bulk rates and pass on the money to the creators.

IT law specialists Arnoud Engelfriet and Kamiel Koelman are quick to dismiss B/S’ claims at Tweakers.net (Dutch). Both point out that embedding content on your web page is not necessarily a new publication of that content, and therefore B/S cannot charge money for it.

Dutch copyright law makes a distinction between the act of copying and the act of publishing. A famous lawsuit that highlights the difference between the two, and that went all the way to the Dutch High Council is Poortvliet vs. Hovener (Dutch, PDF). Hovener was a publisher who had an agreement to sell 13 reproductions of Poortvliet’s paintings as part of a calendar. Although Hovener did print the calendar, they then cut out the reproductions and sold them separately, pasted on cardboard and presumably at a much higher price. No copying took place, yet it was considered a new form of publication, and therefore infringement.

Engelfriet’s and Koelman’s reasoning are in my opinion unconvincing, but even more so I think B/S rates are through the roof. A rate of 13 cents per embedded video seems much more reasonable considering that videos embedded in blogs (with the rare exception perhaps for blogs where people come to listen to the music) only work to expose an audience to the embedded works.

UPDATE: Sign the petition: bumablog

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August 3, 2009

Embedding radio stations a costly affair

Filed under: General,Online by Orangemaster @ 11:17 am

We recently wrote about Dutch copyright collection agency Buma/Stemra, (pet name: B/S) charging big bucks for using embedded radio players. Since bad news often travels in packs, people who embed stations and streams on their sites will have to pay 312 euro a year to do so. Oh, and payment is retroactive to January 2009.

Since I own a webradio, I am now considered a ‘source site’ by B/S, while anyone restreaming me in the Netherlands is a ‘target site’. I don’t know anyone who restreams me and if they do, they probably don’t live in the Netherlands. As usual with new rules and rates from B/S, the Dutch ‘twittosphere’ is buzzing with more questions than answers, while the Managing Director of B/S twitters about his new office furniture (well, pretty much) and answers no tweets. Grow a pair and defend your policies already.

Imagine having to pay to embed YouTube on a blog! Imagine paying for anything embedded like conferences or a film of your dog doing tricks because you posted it on Facebook first or something. And why do people have to pay almost as much as I do for just adding a link?

And I will quote myself: “The Dutch are used to paying for everything and even want to do so like I do, but not when they have no idea who or what they are paying for. It remains vague, incomprehensible and frustrating.”


(Link: marketingfacts.nl, image: Oh La La)

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March 13, 2009

Companies to pay for employees’ (already paid for) music

Filed under: Gadgets,Music by Branko Collin @ 10:56 pm

Judge J.H. Huijzer has ordered in what must be one of the silliest court findings of recent times that companies whose employees bring iPods to work, must pay copyright collectives for the music.

In practice that means you’re going to pay several times for the music you listen to. Imagine you’re listening to the radio on your Digital Audio Player. First, the radio station had to pay for buying the medium. Then they have to pay for broadcasting the song. If they burn a back-up to CD, they have to pay for that too. If you bought your DAP in Germany you paid a copyright fee on the hard disk, and now when you listen to the radio at work your boss has to cough up some extra cash.

I wonder why people download their music so often instead of buying the CD. Hm…

The court’s very tortuous reasoning goes like this (Dutch):

4.3. The judge finds that the mere fact that employees are allowed to listen to music during working hours, even on an iPod or mobile phone, means that Suplacon [the defendant – Branko] has an interest in its employees listening to music. After all, happy employees work harder. This means that publication of music as defined in article 12 of the Auteurswet has taken place.

(The Dutch copyright law, Auteurswet, distinguishes between publication and copying, both acts forbidden by the law unless you have the author’s permission or unless you cross the palm of copyright collectives with some silver.)

BUMA, the rights organisation that brought the case, says (Dutch): don’t cry, the judge did not mean it like that, and we’re not going to collect money from companies where employees listen to their iPods. If the judge didn’t mean it like that, then why did he say it like that?

I imagine the next Eddy Murphy movie to be called The Nutty Judge, based on true events. Eddy, let your people call my people, I can have this peach of a script ready in no-time. All I ask is that you pay me upfront, and then when the movie is shown in theaters, and then when it is brought out on DVD, and then just because I feel like it, and then when it’s a Monday, and then when I see three pigeons in a day, and so on and on and on and on.

Via Iusmentis (Dutch) and others. Photo: Universal.

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