Brazilian Performance Rights Group Claims Collecting From Bloggers Was Simply An 'Operational Error' After Google Pushes Back

from the and-i-thought-google-was-just-there-to-screw-lowly-creatives dept

Last week, Brazil's citizens were in an uproar about the national performance rights organization (ECAD) attempting to charge a non-profit blog over $200 a month for embedding Youtube and Vimeo videos, and implicitly threatening to similarly bill other blogs. ECAD claimed that not only was this allowed by Brazil's currently-standing laws but that, despite collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from Youtube itself every year, this new set of fees would not be a double-dip.

How quickly things change, especially for entities who find themselves staring down an angry internet. At first, ECAD seemed disturbingly untroubled by the uproar, including the memeification of its intention to stretch the definition of "public performance" to include all audible sound. But it suddenly changed its prohibitively expensive tune when hundreds of thousands of dollars were at stake.

None other than Google Brazil itself issued a blog post stating that ECAD's existing agreement with Youtube did not allow the agency to collect fees from bloggers, pointing out the obvious to ECAD's wilfully obtuse representatives:

These sites don't host or transmit any content when they associate a YouTube video to their site, and as such, the fact of embedding videos from YouTube can't be treated as a ‘retransmission'. As these sites aren't performing any music, ECAD can't, within the law, collect any payment from these.
Having been smacked down by its main benefactor, ECAD issued a statement of its own, claiming the whole thing was just an "error" and that it had no intention of setting up tollbooths on every website with embedded video:
1- Ecad has never had the intention to curtail the freedom on the internet, known to be a space devoted to information, dissemination of music and other creative works, and propagation of ideas. The institution also lacks a copyright billing strategy geared to embedded videos. Royalties collections for webcasting have been under re-evaluation since February 29th, and the case reported in recent days took place before then. Nevertheless, it resulted from an operational error of interpretation, which represents an isolated fact in this segment. (...)

2- Two years ago, Ecad and Google signed a letter of intent that guides the relationship between both organizations. The document details thatEcad can collect copyright fees for music coming from embedded videos, as long as it gives advance notice to Google/YouTube. As Ecad did not send such a notification, it becomes clear that this is not its goal. If it were the case, it would have sent the notification the letter of intent requires. (...)
Note that ECAD has left itself a bit of an opening for pursuing these fees in the future. Supposedly it can still go after blogs but only if it informs Google/Youtube of its intention to do so. It seems the only error it feels it made was getting caught. Everything else was simply a clerical screw-up and if all ducks had been properly ordered, it would have been free to bill websites for linking to Youtube.

As it stands now, ECAD has backed completely away from this plan. But, once the furor dies down and recedes into the past, I wouldn't be surprised to see this sort of tactic deployed again, if not by ECAD, than certainly by another "aspirational" performance rights organization.

(Hat tip to Techdirt's own Glyn Moody and his amazing Twitter feed. He's asked you all very nicely to follow him and this post is an example of why you should. So, follow this link to do exactly that..)

 



Reader Comments (rss)

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    Ninja (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 6:30am

    Wow. Money sure speaks volumes. Or sings in this case.

    Capitalism at its finest, I can bet a kidney they wouldn't have backed down if Google remained silent (even though the interwebz angry mob would do the trick later). Amusing.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 7:01am

      Re:

      Nothing wrong with Capitalism. Sadly nobody in the world practices real Capitalism.
      Granting monopolies and exclusive rights isn't capitalism.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 7:15am

        Re: Re:

        Hey look, it's a true Scotsman! Wait, that can't be right...

         

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          Chris Rhodes (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 7:36am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I suppose it depends on how you define "capitalism". If we're defining it as free markets, then he's completely right. We've never had one of those.

          If we're defining "capitalism" to be our current fascist, crony corporatist state of existence, then sure, fire away.

          Side Note: The "No True Scotsman" fallacy is tricky to use correctly, and people often don't. Let's say I create a new religion based on one rule: absolute nonviolence, no matter the situation. If someone claiming to be a follower of my religion goes on a shooting spree, and I claim he isn't a follower at all, can you "No True Scotsman" me?

           

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          Greg G, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 7:39am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It is! It's a Scotsman on a horse!

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 7:35am

      Re:

      +1 for Google.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 7:01am

    strange how these types of 'errors' keep being admitted to after they become widely known, isn't it? i wonder if that would be the case if not for the internet making the information available so quickly? but i suppose it's all the fault of 'social networking' anyway!

     

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      Call me Al, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 7:29am

      Re:

      That does seem a pattern for our times. See how much you can get away with until someone calls you out loudly and publicly, then claim it was all a mistake.

      We live in a peculiar time where saying something was a mistake or "human error" somehow protects them from culpability and reprisals.

       

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        That One Guy (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 8:28pm

        Re: Re:

        >We live in a peculiar time where saying something was a mistake or "human error" somehow protects them from culpability and reprisals, assuming you have enough money.

        Added the important part there for you.

         

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 7:29am

      Re:

      the evil scourge that is "social networking" must be expunged!

       

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      That One Guy (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 8:26pm

      Re:

      No no, see the error they speak of isn't the shakedown, it's the fact they got caught doing it. You can bet the shakedown was very much intentional, though obviously they didn't expect to actually get caught and called up on it.

       

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    Karl (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 8:18am

    Who pays the fees?

    Two years ago, Ecad and Google signed a letter of intent that guides the relationship between both organizations. The document details that Ecad can collect copyright fees for music coming from embedded videos, as long as it gives advance notice to Google/YouTube.

    Even if this is the case, it seems to me that Ecad could only collect those fees from Google. The bloggers wouldn't have to pay those fees in any case.

    This is because it was Google - and not the bloggers - that signed that agreement. You can't be legally responsible for a contract you never even saw.

    So, Ecad had no business contacting the bloggers no matter what is in the agreement.

    Well, unless Brazil has some bizarro-world contract laws.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 8:38am

    It's funny how as soon as it's obvious to them that they are losing, it's almost as if they support "the Internet" and all that, just after they tried to destroy it. Unbelievable liars.

     

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