(Updated, Monday, 6:30 am PCT) This is one of those scandals that smashes the cookie jar, it’s so ironic it puts Williamsburg to shame! The craziness surrounds a Dutch anti-piracy campaign that was actually infringing music, mosty through warning clips on DVDs.
Anti-piracy group BREIN was initially ensnared in the controversy, though it now appears that another anti-piracy group – specifically tied to film – has been infringing a track composed by a local composer. The writer, Melchoir Rietveldt, authorized the use of his song in 2006 for one film festival, with strict usage parameters attached. Yet his music – and the accompanying spot – was soon used across numerous anti-piracy messages,
according to the artist and his representative (and first reported by Netherlands-based PowNews). That includes a Harry Potter DVD, which is where Rietveldt discovered the infringement in 2007 after endless recyclings.
> Update: In a Monday morning email, BREIN flatly denied any wrongdoing. A rash of reports in the Netherlands are pointing to the organization (see below for example), though the ‘real killer’ appears to be a separate group (more details on that ahead).
Rietveldt initially started pursuing a claim of rougly $1.3 million, and also pursued remedies through local collection society Buma/Stemra. That apparently went nowhere, except when Buma/Stemra board member Jochem Gerrits offered to assist with the claim – that is, with a demand for 30 percent of the ultimate reward.
Why the percentage? Perhaps seeing some promise in the case, Rietveldt offered to pursue the matter as a publisher seeking redress (which introduces the large fee, payable to Gerrits’ High Fashion Music). A recorded conversation of the proposal sparked outrage, and forced Gerrits to temporarily step down to focus on his legal defense.
The discussion of those terms were taped by PowNews in a studio, with Gerrits clearly outlining the one-third term. Torrentfreak offers more detail of the conversation.
“Why do you have to earn money?” he asks, as usually all of the money goes directly to the artists.
“It could be because a lot of people in the industry know that they are in trouble when I get involved,” Gerrits responds, adding that he can bring up the topic immediately in a board meeting next week.”
> Updated: Gerrits is starting to respond in the Netherlands, and feels the discussion was taped out of context. At issue is whether playing publisher in this situation represents a conflict of interest.
And, here’s the report – complete with the taped interview – in PowNews (also in Dutch, by the way).