Sound of irony: Copyright firm fined after stealing music for anti-piracy ad

Sound of irony: Copyright firm fined after stealing music for anti-piracy adA music royalty collection agency in the Netherlands got trapped by the very copyright rules it was intended to protect. The company has been fined for stealing music from its client, using it without his permission and failing to pay royalties.

Music royalty collection agency Buma/Stemra now owes at least 164,974 euro to the Dutch musician Melchior Rietveldt, a sum calculated by the recording artist himself.

Back in 2006, Buma/Stemra approached Melchior Rietveldt with a request to create a composition that would be used in an anti-piracy advertisement. At that time the group claimed it would be shown exclusively at a local film festival.

But to the composer’s amusement, one year later he purchased a Harry Potter DVD only to find that his piece was 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.

Rietveldt then went to the music royalty collecting agency to ask for financial compensation. Eventually Buma/Stemra sent him “an advance” of 15,000 euro along with a promise to forward a list of all the other DVDs that the composer’s music had been used on.

That list never arrived, but according to the Amsterdam Court, it amounted to at least 71 commercial DVDs.

Despite much wrangling, by 2011 Buma/Stemra still hadn’t provided Rietveldt with the necessary data, but did pay another 10,000 euro ‘advance’.

In June, Buma/Stemra paid Rietveld another 31,000 euro. But this week the Amsterdam District Court ruled that Buma/Stemra had indeed been negligent in their handling of the case.

They were fined 20,000 euro, ordered to pay Rietveldt’s legal costs, and told to continue efforts to pay all money due to the composer while keeping him fully informed of any and all developments.

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