Universal Music Prevents Popular Play From Showing In Stockholm, Despite Not Having The Legal Rights

from the copyfraud... dept

As the major record labels and their lawyers and lobbyists run around the globe demonizing anyone for any sort of copyright infringement, we keep hearing stories of how they falsely claim rights over music for which they do not hold them. We recently covered the story of Edwyn Collins and his inability to offer free downloads of a popular hit song -- because Warner Music Group put in a copyright claim on the song. Reader Marius points us to a similar situation, over in Sweden. Despite theaters in Sweden being covered by a license agreement on musical performances by STIM, the Swedish performing rights collection society, apparently some music publishers claim that theaters still owe more money.

In one case, Universal Music (I assume its publishing arm...) threatened a theater because a popular play (that had toured without incident all over Europe) included a part where a Simon & Garfunkel record was playing in the background. The theater owner actually wrote a letter to Paul Simon to find out what his complaint was -- and received a response saying that Universal does not represent Paul Simon's music in theater contracts. Now, it's possible that there was some misunderstanding (language, cultural or legal), but this sort of thing seems to be happening more and more. When the theater owner informed Universal of this, Universal apparently retracted its demands for payment -- but the theatre company putting on the performance had already decided not to risk doing the play.

It's difficult to see how anyone comes out ahead in such a scenario. The Swedish public doesn't get to see the play or hear the music. Paul Simon doesn't get to attract new fans. Universal Music doesn't get anything other than a lot of ill will from the theater community. Why even bother at all?


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 1:21pm

    Why do you see this as a bad thing ??

    Why do you see this as a bad thing ??

    It will lead to a backlash .... they have no consistent plan so they will continue stepping on each others toes...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Why do you see this as a bad thing ??

    breaking off into more and more splinter groups .... with more and more fees .... where everyone is charged 3,4,5 times for any playing music in public ....

    Its a Good Thing ... Big Ole GRIN

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Why do you see this as a bad thing ??

    Because moving civilization forward by catering to fools that consistently overstep their bounds in the hope that the backlash will result in incremental progress is phenonmenally stupid.

     

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  4.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Why do you see this as a bad thing ??

    "Because moving civilization forward by catering to fools that consistently overstep their bounds in the hope that the backlash will result in incremental progress is phenonmenally stupid."

    Nah, it just only works well when you have a majority population that is actively interested. Unfortunately, as history has shown over and over again, for the most part people will put up with the abuse as long as the shephards don't go SERIOUSLY too far.

    It's called feature creep, and it's the reason they do it this way...

     

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  5.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    Did the lawyers get paid?

    OK then.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 2:41pm

    perhaps there was a misunderstanding of the use. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding of the location of the show, or maybe they had been told it would be recorded and sold or shown on TV. There are plenty of things here.

    Glass house Mike, you have made your own fair share of errors. Lighten up a bit.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 2:50pm

    THEM STEALERS ARE DESTROYING THE SOUND OF SILENCE!!!

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 3:28pm

    Swedish Judges

    When the theater owner informed Universal of this, Universal apparently retracted its demands for payment --

    I wonder why they did that. Surely they have enough Swedish judges in their pocket to ensure a court victory regardless of the merits of the case.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 3:34pm

    Re:

    Glass house Mike, you have made your own fair share of errors. Lighten up a bit.

    And I've seen him called out on them, too. So, just what is it that makes Universal Music so special that they shouldn't be (other than the possibility of you working for them, that is)?

     

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  10.  
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    drkkgt (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 3:37pm

    Re:

    and yet they backed down immediately
    from the article: "The play has toured across Europe and has never had any problems before. But suddenly Paul Simon has heard about the lay, and does not want his music being used, Universal claim.
    I then wrote a letter to Paul Simon and asked if this really was his opinion, and receive a swift response from his representative Eddie Simon that something must be array here. Universal do not represent Paul Simon in contractual agreements with theatres, he explained. Universal then retracted their demand and said that there were no longer any objections" Also, if you read the article, this wasn't a one shot "we are going to sue unless you quit" so the theater quit. The theater tried to work with them and Universal ignored them

    Check out the linked articles off the original above as well.

     

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  11.  
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    teknosapien, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 6:07pm

    Old Business model wont grow up to be a big boy

    I've said it once I'll say it again
    until people stop buying products from companies like Universal they will continue on with these types of tactics

    I agree that artists/distribution channels should get their fair share but, I dont agree with supporting a company that has used these tactics against the very people that provide them with their income. In short if my kid(s) acted like the record companies they'd be grounded for life

     

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  12.  
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    PaulT (profile), Oct 15th, 2009 @ 12:57am

    Re:

    So, you're saying that it's OK for a play to be shut down because a 3rd party with no rights in the matter had a "misunderstanding" or might conceivably become involved at some point in the distant future?

    How incredibly dumb.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 5:15am

    Re: Re:

    Standard "you are a shill" insinuation. How novel. How wrong.

    No, read the story. Universal made the demand for payment. THe theater owner contacted them, they talked it over, and the request for payment was removed. Likely a misunderstanding, perhaps because it fell under some other licensing scheme. We don't know that.

    It isn't like Universal then took them to court and sued them anyway.

    The point is that a few months from now, Mike will link to this story in some sort of "universal is a bully" or "music companies trying to collect even when they have no rights", using a story that isn't entirely true or properly understood to try to support his next half baked story.

    Considering the "Things not grim for the music business" thread: http://techdirt.com/articles/20091013/0118206500.shtml

    It points to this story:
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090723/0351345633.shtml

    yet the underlying document in that story shows that the music industry is all but flat on music and concert sales (3% gain) but that the majority of the gain was made on (eek!) licensing and other activities of the dreaded PRS.

    So the "grim" story is made up of whole cloth. The underlying numbers are dependent on the one thing Mike repeatedly pushes to get rid of, the dinosaur licensing divisions. Yet, we see in this case, he is more than happy to count the money because he can pile it on and claim the music business is all good even with all the piracy, which is not the case.

    It's the tricky world of building up "facts" based on other "facts" that aren't facts at all.

     

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  14.  
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    Rasmus, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 5:19am

    Re:

    "perhaps there was a misunderstanding of the use. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding of the location of the show, or maybe they had been told it would be recorded and sold or shown on TV. There are plenty of things here."

    Actually its a very well known case here in Sweden and this report is a very accurate description, but shortened, description of what actually happened. Universal got seriously slapped in the face by Paul Simon for unlawfully claiming to represent him.

     

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  15.  
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    herodotus (profile), Oct 15th, 2009 @ 7:02am

    "It's the tricky world of building up "facts" based on other "facts" that aren't facts at all."

    Whereas taking random pot shots anonymously isn't tricky at all.

    No one knows who you are, so they can never point out any inconsistencies. Your words aren't easily found via google because they aren't conveniently arranged by date and subject matter in a publicly available data base.

    You aren't a tough guy if the only punches you ever land are sucker punches.

    In any case, this isn't an isolated case and it isn't unusual. Large media conglomerates frequently make these sorts of mistakes with other people's copyright material. Mistakes that they would never countenance from others. This blog entry of Robert Fripp's involves exactly this kind of disagreement with EMI.

    I mean, how much slack are we supposed to cut these people?

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Standard "you are a shill" insinuation.

    I bet you get that a lot, eh? Maybe there's a reason for that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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