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Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodies: The Buma/Stemra Model For European Pirates

by | 5th, December 2011

QUIS Custodiet Ipsos Custodies. Or to translate that into modern English, how do we make sure that the people we ask to make sure that bastards don’t steal from us aren’t bastards who steal from us?

Oh, sure, we can appoint all sorts of technocrats, bureaucrats, have politicians, even have independent organisations to monitor things for us. But what happens when they turn out to be breaching their own monitoring?

A board member of rights management company Buma/Stemra which represents composers and music publishers has stepped down amid allegations of corruption, the Volkskrant writes on Thursday.
Broadcaster Powned recorded a conversation between Jochem Gerritsand and  the lawyer of composer Melchior Rietveldt who claims the organisation owes him at least €1m in lost copyright fees.

Rietveldt wrote a piece of music for an anti-piracy ad which was widely distributed without his knowledge. In spite of numerous requests he was never paid for the reproduction of his music.

A rights management company, well, think of our own Performing Rights Society. In fact, Buma/Stemra is very similar indeed. They collect TV and radio fees, songwriters and composers royalties on public performances and record/CD sales, that sort of thing. They’re private, yes, but only sort of semi-private. They’re backed a bit by law (people do have to pay the royalties) and supposed to be doing it for the good of all.

But as you can see, one composer wrote a piece to be used in anti-piracy ads: and they’ve been refusing to pay him the royalties for it. It’s very funny in one way, that exactly that piece, that composer, should be getting screwed over by that organisation.

In another it’s a stark warning about shuffling money or responsibility off into an unaccountable organisation. Whether private or public, even government: if we can’t get in there and fire the bastards then how can we keep them straight?



Posted: 5th, December 2011 | In: Money Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink