Composer Melchior Rietveld won a court case against copyright collection agency Stemra last week over music he wrote for an anti-piracy ad.
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.
Tags: brein, BUMA, courts, crime, criminals, damages, judges, Stemra
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.)
Tags: BUMA, copyright, Stemra, videos, YouTube
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
Tags: blogging, BUMA, copyright, Internet, law, Stemra