In what must be some very embarrassing news for the organisation, Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN are embroiled in a copyright scandal in which they have used unlicensed music as part of their anti-piracy campaign. The hypocrisy involved in this case first, reported by PowNews, is breathtaking.
BREIN are the group that have been attempting to shut down file sharing sites and bittorrent trackers in the Netherlands, with some success over the years. But it appears that they either don’t practice what they preach or have had one hell of an oversight – as they have resolutely refused to pay the artist whose music they make use of in the anti-piracy adverts on DVDs for the past few years – conveniently ignoring his pleas for compensation for years.
Melchios Rietveldt was asked to compose music for an anti-piracy video for a local film festival back in 2006 – which he did and the ad was shown as described – all good so far.
However, without his knowledge or permission – the ad has since been used for various other purposes including being the anti-piracy ads on DVDs sold in the Netherlands. In fact, Rietveldt would not have known about its usage if he hadn’t heard his composition himself used in the anti-piracy ad on a Harry Potter DVD he bought in 2007. To this point, the composer believes his work to have been used on tens of millions of Dutch DVDs without compensation which his financial advisor puts in the region of $1.3 million.
The Netherlands has a well funded and advanced copyright system just like those in the UK or US, and obtaining the compensation should have been as simple as applying for it from the Dutch collecting society BUMA/STEMRA – but his requests fell on deaf ears.
The case has only made progress most recently because of the personal involvement of BUMA/STEMRA board member Jochem Gerrits who had offered to intervene and get Rietveldt the royalties he had earned, but only after he assigns the copyright of the song to Gerrits’ own music publishers, High Fashion Music, and gave him 33% of the proceeds. Gerrits has since claimed that he was “misinterpreted”, and has temporarily resigned, but any claims that the music rights organisations are doing anything to protect artists seem to be in tatters at this point.
Here’s hoping Rietveldt manges to wade through this quagmire of corruption and mistakes to get the royalties he deserves.