Time Warner, Defenders Of Copyright, Forced To Pay Up For Copyright Infringement

from the live-by-the-copyright,-die-by-the-copyright dept

You can almost set your watch that any company or group that comes out vehemently in favor of restrictive copyright protection under the guise of protecting artists will be found to be in violation of copyrights and acting in a manner demonstrating clearly that zero care is given to the well-being of artists. The most recent example of this is Time Warner. Recall in the past that the massive media company has regularly sued music startup groups, pimped the six-strikes agreement with Hollywood, worked with Rightscorp to milk money out of accused infringers, and back a ways waged a war unpopular with its signed musical artists against YouTube. This, all done by Time Warner in the name of advocating for artists and creators, was done even as we learned just to what lengths Warner Music has gone to make sure it paid artists as little as possible.

But paying artists “little” is better than paying artists “none,” I suppose, which is exactly what Time Warner has been found to have done in playing artists’ music entirely without permission at the company’s Spanish amusement park.

Time Warner, the owner of Warner Bros, which is known for being prolific in its battle against copyright infringement, is now in trouble in Spain for using the music of local artists in its theme park for six years without ever paying a licence fee. The Supreme Court of Spain has ordered the Parque Warner Madrid resort theme park (co-owned by Time Warner and Parques Reunidos) to pay €321,450 ($358,651, £250,539) in damages for playing the music of Spanish artists on loudspeakers to park visitors between 2002 to 2008. As the tunes were played in public areas across the park, including attractions, restaurants, retail outlets and transportation, the court ruled that the park had not gained permission from the artists and producers affected.

The thing about claiming to take a moral stand is that such a stand requires consistency. Framing its advocacy of copyright as benevolence to artists makes the blatant use without permission of musicians in its theme park appear more dastardly than, say, a fan of a band that uploads a music video to YouTube. That this went on for six years creates a legal setting in which it strains credulity to believe that the company was completely oblivious to these goings on.

But let’s say you wanted to give Time Warner the benefit of the doubt here. Maybe this was all done by a manager of the park unbeknownst to company higher-ups. Were that to be the case, and given what staunch supporters of artists being compensated that the company claims to be, you’d have to imagine that Time Warner would have graciously recognized its error and made sure artists were compensated for it. Hahaha, no.

In May 2010, Madrid’s Commercial Court Number 7 ruled in favour of the copyright holders, and on appeal the Provincial Court of Madrid also found in favour of AGEDI and AIE. Parque Warner continued to argue against the decision because it said that it should not have to pay a yearly rate for the music if the park was only open from March to November, eventually appealing to the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately for Parque Warner, the Supreme Court sided with the artists and rejected Parque Warner’s claim that the compensation amount had been miscalculated, demanding that the park fairly compensate the artists and producers for using the music without authorisation in an “intense and continuous” manner.

Even after admitting to the infringement, Time Warner wanted to haggle over just how much to pay for it based on the hours it deigned to keep at its amusement park. Not exactly the warm hug to musical artists that one would expect from these paladins of musicians’ rights.

But, as I’ve said before, live by the copyright, die by the copyright.

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Companies: time warner

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Comments on “Time Warner, Defenders Of Copyright, Forced To Pay Up For Copyright Infringement”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Copyright is like an infectious disease, get close and you get the symptoms.

Time Warner Inc. (no longer part of the Cable Company) has a lot invested in copyright related materials. Their magazine empire is behind paywalls despite their contribution to decades of culture (there might be a dime or two to earn out of them). I doubt this fits with either Henry or Claire Booth Luce’s intentions. Profits already earned don’t really need earning again, except for shareholders.

They have been a 20% or so owner of HBO since HBO was someones dream (that’s personal knowledge, I wasn’t able to find the original date of investment, but I knew the story, in real time, when it happened). There is no excuse for them not knowing that they owed money. There is no excuse for their trying to follow Hollywood accounting, except that the movie end of their business gets away with it, along with every other studio.

Why is it, again, that Hollywood accounting is allowed to exist?

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s really quite pathetic and sickening that they blatantly commit copyright infringement for 6 years and get a slap on the wrist with a fine equal to change in the couch cushions for them yet if it was someone they caught like a bar or club then the courts would give them the huge fines and maybe even jail time that they are seeking for punishment.

Anonmylous says:

Good lord

Guys i hate the maximalists as much as anyone but stop acting high and mighty, you come off as assholes.

Yes they wanted to reduce the fines, based on a simple thing called common sense. Not open 12 months, why pay for 12 months? Not evil, though rather short-sighted as there likely was no month to month contract and the next step us from a quarterly would be a biannual, then an annual license fee. They get screwed there, their own fault though.

Its not copyright infringement in the classic sense. No copying and distribution. They violated performance or possibly broadcast rights. Totally different ball of fish. So yeah, damages are much reduced.

Third…. its fucking Spain! Seriously, their laws are different from the US. Including copyright.

As for whether TWI knew of the problems there, who knows. Maybe if other Warner Parks were found doing the same thing you could say that. Likely, the top had no idea what the child company was doing. And that is a problem of megacorps like this. These giants that have no idea what their own hands and feet are doing. That’s what you should be laughing at, a business that has no idea what the hell its different branches are doing. THAT should be shaking investor confidence to the core when these stories keep coming out over and over again.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Good lord

First, it is the parent corporations responsibility to know what its subsidiaries are doing, in detail.

Second, one of the first things any MBA would look into when opening operations in a new country is what their laws are. All of their laws. They would also look at customs, language differences, market differences, demographic differences (which includes income as well as cost of living), and etc.. Take an MBS class or three, there is a standard list.

Third, no it is not unreasonable to try to mitigate expenses, but they knew they should have been paying something FOR SIX YEARS and didn’t pay anything. And then when caught at it, they didn’t pay up, they APPEALED.

Fourth, it is copyright infringement, in the same sense that the RIAA and MPAA and the Spanish versions of those entities define it. That they aren’t being charged for every person that heard the music is hard to comprehend, given past behaviors. And really, how much is the artist actually going to see?

Fifth, $358,651 is a pittance for a company like TimeWarner. Now the entity that is Parque Warner may feel differently about that, but so what?

I don’t pretend to know the answer to funding every musician, writer, movie maker, painter, sculptor, crafts-person, weaver, indigenous potter, (note that dress designers are not included nor actually need to be included, talk about weird, eh?) etc., but I do know that people in the middle aren’t the answer. I also know that when a certain IP is used in such a commercial manner that the adult thing to do is make sure the artist is taken care of, even if the middleman gets screwed, though that might not comport with Spanish law, shame on them (us too, as it does not comport with US law either).

My definition of artist or creator does not include heirs or corporations or other entities that do not create. I am not sure how to work it (the Internet and World Wide Web is a start) but the idea of patronage seems to have created some of the greatest pieces in past millennium, and without copyrights or trademarks. How does that work today? The whole Kickstarter platform was created to fund sculpture. Maybe that is the way to go? Mike has proposed and highlighted numerous different forms of funding art in its various forms, maybe it is the combination?

What needs to die is that one creation should make an artist rich and that creation should keep on paying for the lifetime of the artist, or pay their childrens college tuition, unless the timing is fortuitous, or pay every time that item is referenced, homaged in some way, or included in a not related something or other.

The whole idea of fair use should go away, not because it is a ridiculous concept, but because it is no longer needed because people appreciate and share culture and recognize that what they create is built upon the fire that came before, fire they didn’t create, fire that came from lightening.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Good lord

“Not open 12 months, why pay for 12 months?”

Is that a deal other outlets can have? Or does anyone playing music have to pay a yearly fee?

And TW who are champions of copyright in all its various forms being involved in something & not making sure they had everything legit while at the same time shaking cash out of people because they didn’t secure their router & claiming they had a duty to protect TW… yeah they should have had to pay triple.

That One Guy (profile) says:

"It's only a terrible crime against artists when other people do it..."

Yeah, I’ve no doubt whatsoever that if anyone else had used music that TW had the rights to, for years at that, as background music for their business then TW would be demanding penalties that would make the fine they’re currently facing look like pocket change. As the argument would go clearly anyone doing something like that, playing music without paying the artist is a terrible infringer and they must be punished.

That even after having been caught at something that would have them demanding blood they still tried to weasel out of paying isn’t surprising, but it does highlight the hypocrisy so often seen among copyright maximalists. “It’s a horrible crime, and highly damaging to artists when other people do it, but when we do it it’s just a mistake, or not a big deal, and there’s no reason to get worked up about it.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Come on! I’m sure they only used music by artists signed to TWI-owned record labels. They’ve already paid the artists kajillions when they signed their respective contracts. And now you want them to pay again for something they already paid for?

Some time ago someone paid someone else whatever dollars for who-knows-what, so now everyone involved should be allowed to do as they please.

That’s how it goes, right?

Buy a game in the 90s, gets re-released on steam 25 years later: Where can I enter my cd key? What, no free copy? I ALREADY BOUGHT THIS!

Buy a vinyl LP, then pver time successively pirate cassette, CD and iTunes ’cause, hell, those greedy bastards just want to get their hands into my wallet every chance they get!

Why should I buy the BluRay instead of downloading? I bought the VHS tape in the 80s! FROM MY OWN ALLOWANCE SUPPLEMENTED BY MY PAPER ROUTE! And just because after 30 years they release it in a different format… oh those greedy assholes.

Live by the copyright, die by the copyright? Yes.

Live by ‘personal rationalisation of infringement because I’m a special wittle butterfly’, die by ‘personal rationalisation of infringement because I’m a special wittle butterfly’? If you say yes to the former, you can’t say no to the latter.

David says:

Get off the high horse

You can almost set your watch that any company or group that comes out vehemently in favor of restrictive copyright protection under the guise of protecting artists will be found to be in violation of copyrights and acting in a manner demonstrating clearly that zero care is given to the well-being of artists.

Copyright is a lot of bull and the best bullfighters lecturing about the fine details of the fight are still more likely to get a scratch on them than football focused couch potatoes. That does not mean that they are bad. It means they are the heroes getting their feet dirty.

’tis only a scratch.

But some day, they may retire either filthy rich and/or spread in the hot sand of capitalism, bled dry by their fellow matadors sucking on their neck…

Uh, somebody hand me another analogy. This one’s taken a fatal blow.

Anonymous Coward says:

what an absolutely insulting amount of money that Time Warner has been fined! had the roles been reversed, Time Warner would have gone for and expected to get millions in damages! what is it about courts that still consistently give the members of the various entertainment industries mega amounts when they are supposedly ‘damaged’ but when the shoe is on the other foot, the fine is less than the member concerns pays in friggin’ tax?

madasahatter (profile) says:

Emperor's Clothes

The emperor lives naked in a glass house. Better learn to be discrete.

I have often wondered if anyone has bothered to read the Constitutional authorization: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” It seems the key words are “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” and “limited Times”. It could be argued that the current patent and even more the current copyright regimes are unconstitutional.

RD says:

F the trolls

$1.92 MILLION dollars for sharing a dozen songs on the internet ONCE, but $350k for SIX YEARS of BLATANT and knowing copyright violation.

Is it any wonder sites like Techdirt take Big Media to task over copyright issues that are so obviously skewed in one direction, and ONLY in one direction? You can’t find a more blatant example of the abuse of the system, yet notice how a dozen different trolls all chime in on *this* thread instantly to rah rah Big Media defending them and *still* insist that Average Joe sharing a song is the Apocalypse and worst crime imaginable.

There is a word for people like this: Evil.

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