This is a old piece of news but a fundamental case in European law for the benefit of musicians who are considering entering the royalty free background music market.
We all are aware of the old dinosaurs we call record labels, but there is an older creature lurking in the shadows; the performing rights society. They
have been, yet still act as if they are a monopoly in many cases and in particular, in Europe.
This case came to court in 2005, whereby, “the main Spanish collecting society Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (‘SGAE’) sued Ricardo
Andres Utrera Fernendez, the owner of Metropol, a disco bar located in Badajoz alleging that he had failed to pay SGAE’s license fee..”
Quite simply, the court rejected the performing rights society’s claims because the owner of the bar proved in court that the music he was using was
not listed in the societies music and thus not managed by the society. An important point here is that Fernendez was able to prove that he exclusively
used music licensed to him (via a Creative Commons license) that was not managed by the performing rights society. Had he mixed both sources of music he would no doubt have been found guilty & would have needed to pay the fee.
The Creative Commons article continues by stating,
“This case shows that there is more music that can be enjoyed and played publicly than that which is managed by the collecting societies..
…As CC Spain project lead Ignasi Labastida said: ‘This decision demonstrates that authors can choose how to manage their rights for their
own benefit and anyone can benefit from that choice, too. I expect that collecting societies will understand that something has to change to face
this new reality.?’”
Performing rights societies say they are there to support and protect the artist from missed revenues but even though they are ‘not for profit’ in
reality the only interest they have to heart is their own jobs.
Sure these guys do good for artists, and have done great in the past but my concern is that they are deliberately reluctant and can become quite
aggressive with anyone that threatens their monopoly and so deliberately restrict artists from exploiting new business opportunities. The protection
of their monopoly and the restrictions to artists are two very different things that are often mixed up with their own protectionism.
Who was it that said it is hard to convince a man of something if it means he will loose his job?