UPDATE: Brazilian Performance Rights Agency Demands Blogger Pay $204 A Month To Embed Videos
from the you-can-only-take-my-money-for-so-long-before-you-take-it-all dept
Well, you can never say that performance rights organizations are unwilling to explore every option when attempting to snag a bit more income, ostensibly for their roster artists. American PROs (ASCAP, BMI, etc.) have attempted to collect from Girl Scouts, every cell phone owner with a ringtone and argued that a single person listening to their own music via the cloud is a “public performance.” British PROs (PRS, mainly) have levied fees against pretty much any small business that has the audacity to play radios at an audible volume, as well as succeeding in collecting fees for “public performances” from hotels/motels who provide in-room radios for their guests. SABAM, Belgium’s PRO arm, has managed to out-thug the rest of the world’s PROs, demanding fees from truck drivers for listening to the radio in their cabs (“workplace”) as well as collecting for bands that don’t even exist.
There’s a lot of competition out there in the dog-eat-dog world of performance rights double and triple-dipping, but it appears that Brazil’s PRO, ECAD (Central Office of Collection and Distribution) is ready to play in the big leagues. Its strategy? Collect royalties from bloggers who embed videos. (As you may recall, ASCAP tried this a few years back to no avail, but Brazil’s relationship with copyright could safely be described as “incomprehensibly inconsistent.”)
(The following quotes come from a translated page, so they have been copied verbatim.) [UPDATE: Eduardo, the author of the original post, has sent over a better translation of the quotations.)
The saga of unusual collections of the Central Office of Collection and Distribution (ECAD) has added another chapter last week. The boys from the blog Caligraffiti received last Tuesday in an email warning that the collecting society would have to pay royalties for videos from YouTube and Vimeo that appeared on the site.
The saga of unusual collections from the Central Office of Collection and Distribution (ECAD) gained another chapter last week. The boys from the blog Caligraffiti received last Tuesday an email from the collecting society warning that they would have to pay royalties for videos from YouTube and Vimeo embedded on the site.
This is surprising. ECAD already collects performance royalties from Youtube Brasil for its artists. In fact, it collects quite a bit from Youtube.
YouTube Brasil will have to pay 2.5% of its gross revenue per exhibition of songs protected by Ecad (Bureau of Revenue Distribution) in the country. If the amount of the stipulated percentage does not reach BRL 258,000 (US $146,250) in a year, the site must pay the value as “minimum annual fee”.
Not only does Youtube Brasil pay a minimum mandatory fee yearly but ECAD has also hit the site with a BRL 645,000 (US $366,000) “subscription fee.” The PRO collected roughly BRL 510,000 (US $289,000) in 2011. With Youtube already on the hook for the performance royalties, how does ECAD arrive at the conclusion that embedded video (just a link back to Youtube for all intents and purposes) should subject bloggers to performance royalty payments?
Well, according to ECAD, Youtube is the “transmitter” and of course, has to pay. But blogs embedding videos are “relays” and are also subject to these fees. Basically, ECAD has found a loophole in the existing law and is looking to exploit it. ECAD’s spokesman:
[UPDATE: Translation via Eduardo, along with this splendid note — “This second one has a very bad wording in portuguese as well, written by lawyers in their own language.”]:
The right of public performance in digital mode is through the concept of transmission exists in law and in this art. 5 of section II of Law 9.610/98, which issue is the transmission or dissemination of sounds or sounds and images through of radio waves, satellite signals, wire, cable or other conductor, optical or other electromagnetic process, so this includes the Internet.
The rights of public performance in digital media happen through the concept of transmission found in the article 5, section II of the law 9.610/98, in wich transmission or emission are the diffusion of sounds or images through radio waves, satellite signals, wire, cable or other conductor, optical or other electromagnetic process, so this includes the Internet.
ECAD also argues that the “transmitter” and the “relay” are completely different forms of use and as such, do not represent “double recovery.” This is, roughly translated, complete horseshit. But it gets even worse. Bloggers are being charged a flat-rate based on a designation that ECAD itself decides. The cheapest option, most likely, is to be declared a “non-profit.” But even that designation saddles the blog with crippling fees.
To blog [as] a nonprofit, the amount charged by Ecad is nothing lightweight: R $ 352.59 (US $204) monthly.
Caligraffiti is a niche blog dedicated to design and technology, with a hit count of 1,000-1,500 hits per day and is not profitable. Every contributor does something other than blogging for income. Despite this, ECAD has designated the blog as a “webcasting or broadcasting program originating from the internet,” a category that is sure to increase the amount levied against it.
In response to this collection attempt, Caligraffiti was briefly taken offline. After some legal consultation, the bloggers decided to re-open and fight ECAD head on, stating that this is clearly an attack on the internet itself, which was built on open sharing and dissemination of information.
ECAD is also sticking to its guns, stating that although it has no collection arm “dedicated” to collecting from bloggers, anyone who “publicly performs music” (read: “embeds video”) on their site is subject to these fees. Of course, ECAD isn’t doubling up on royalties just to be greedy. Its focus is on “the awareness and enlightenment on the need for payment copyright,” without which its covered artists would be “disrespected” by callous bloggers and their embedding code.
Eduardo has also confirmed that ECAD has gone after weddings with DJs for performance royalties (as Ninja pointed out in the comments) and pointed out that the BRL $359 amounts to roughly half a month’s wages at minimum wage.