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?

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: universal music

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

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

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

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…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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:

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.

drkkgt (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Rasmus says:

Re: 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.

teknosapien says:

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

herodotus (profile) says:

“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?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...