Royalty collection organization Burma/Stemra has been fined for not paying royalties for music used in an anti-piracy ad. An Amsterdam court has ordered Buma/Stemra to pay a fine of $24,474 U.S. and also to pay $201,878 U.S. owed.
The copyright collection agency Buma/Stemra is one of the participants in BREIN described by Wikipedia as follows:The stichting BREIN (Bescherming Rechten Entertainment Industrie Nederland) translates roughly as association for the Protection of the Rights of the Entertainment Industry of the Netherlands. BREIN (English: Brain or Brains) is an association in which the Dutch recording industry and movie studios participate. As the description implies the organization is designed to protect the rights of those in the entertainment industry. It is said to receive financing from major Hollywood studios.
Burma/Stemra is one of the organizations that participates in BREIN. Wikipedia describes the firm as follows: BUMA/STEMRA are two private organizations in the Netherlands, the Buma Association (Dutch: Vereniging Buma) and the Stemra Foundation (Dutch: Stichting Stemra) that operate as one single company that acts as the Dutch collecting society for composers and music publishers..
In 2006 BREIN requested Dutch song writer Melchior Rietveldt to write a song that they could use as an anti-piracy PSA (Public Service Ad or Announcement). Rietveldt agreed but stipulated that his song be used only at a specific film festival. However that is just the beginning of the story!
In 2007 Rietveld bought a Harry Potter DVD and was astonished to hear his song being used as part of the PSA notice on the DVD about pirating copies. He checked to see if other DVD's had the song as well. Indeed they did, at least 70 movies had pirated copies of his song. Naturally Rietveldt wanted compensation for use of his song and so he went to Burma/ Stemra the group that collects royalties for Dutch artists. The firm agreed to pay Rietveldt 15,000 euros or over $18,000 U.S. However Rietveldt was not able to collect that money either. Indeed the story gets worse.
A board member of Burma/Stemra tried to make a deal with Rietveldt. Here is the deal as described on a tech news site.Buma/Stemra board member Jochem Gerrits suggested that the composer should sign his track over to High Fashion Music, a label owned by Gerrits himself and one that would take a third of Rietveldt's royalties for its trouble.
Gerrits resigned but has filed a defamation suit against PowNews that reported the incident. The Netherlands government announced new regulations that would prevent conflicts of interest of this sort. Since Rietveldt was still without compensation he sued.
Recently an Amsterdam court has found in favor of Rietveldt. Burma/Stemra is to pay a fine of 20,000 euros (U.S. $24,474) and the sum of 164,974 musician euros (U.S. $201,878) the amount owed in royalties. Finally the anti-piracy pirates have been brought to justice.