Scams

by Glyn Moody


Filed Under:
artists, collection society, copyright, corruption, pro, scandal

Companies:
aepi, bpi



More Financial Scandals Involving A Collecting Society: Remind Me Again Why They Are Credible Representatives Of Artists?

from the maybe,-just-maybe,-they-are-not dept

If you've been reading Techdirt for any time you'll know that copyright collecting societies have a pretty poor record when it comes to supporting the artists they are supposed to serve. Sometimes, that is just a question of incompetence, but often it veers over into something worse, as happened in Spain, Peru and India. TorrentFreak has some interesting news about an audit of the Greek collection society (AEPI). Initially, AEPI was reluctant to hand over the relevant documents to allow the audit to take place, but here's what has just emerged:

The final report, obtained by Greek publication TVXS, reveals a capital deficit of around 20 million euros, which according to the publication means AEPI cannot meet its obligations.

Despite that notable shortfall, key members of AEPI's management team have been getting paid rather handsomely:

AEPI's CEO alone received an annual salary of 625,565 euros in 2011, more than 52,000 euros per month. This figure has prompted outrage in local media.

Strangely, though, the actual artists that AEPI is meant to represent aren't doing quite so well:

According to the audit, AEPI’s IT system tasked with handling royalty payments was incapable of producing a report to compare royalties collected with royalties being paid out. But artists were certainly being short-changed on a grand scale.

"By Dec. 31st 2014, the undistributed royalties to members and rightsholders amounted to 42.5 million euros, and have still not been awarded to members," the Greek newspaper EfSyn notes.

A further post on the TorrentFreak site, this time concerning the former head of anti-piracy at the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), shows that there are problems with money in other parts of the copyright industry:

"BPI can confirm that a former employee, David Wood, was dismissed for gross misconduct in December 2015," a BPI spokesperson told TF.

"BPI has referred the matter to the Metropolitan Police who are investigating. As investigations are ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment in any more detail at this stage.”

TorrentFreak sources indicate that very large sums of money are involved in the dispute, running well into six figures. Precise details have proven impossible to verify (the BPI declined to comment) but we understand the numbers involved are "significant".

Given that this kind of thing has been happening all around the world for years, you really have to wonder why these organizations are still allowed to put themselves forward as the legitimate representatives of the artists they serve so poorly.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+


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  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 27 Mar 2017 @ 9:30am

    Because that isn't important.

    The only important thing is that they are reliable sources of campaign contributions. Hence, most government approval to keep on keeping on...

    So, if you see one getting slapped down... you know why.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Mar 2017 @ 9:41am

    Imagine if they had to open their books to be audited & showed the actual losses to artists that dwarf any claimed losses to piracy.

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

  • icon
    Berenerd (profile), 27 Mar 2017 @ 9:42am

    How else are they to strong arm people for funds to not give musicians?

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

  • identicon
    UniKyrn, 27 Mar 2017 @ 9:46am

    The misunderstanding is about which artists are being supported. The music artists or the con artists. :)

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

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 27 Mar 2017 @ 9:48am

    It would make sense that people employed by organizations that are of a dubious nature to begin with would behave in a highly dubious manner themselves.

    There is no honor among thieves.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:04am

    more to the point, why are artists so gullible to go down the road the studios send them, stating that everything being don is for the artists, when, not only does this happen continuously but what is left is taken by the studios anyway? the only section left with nothing (or as close to it as fuck it is to swearing) is the artist section, yet it's also the only section that has no say it what happens! and dont forget that with the UK ignoring every bit of good advice there is and heading to lock up fathers etc for downloading a music disk for his kids, while having no balls, no guts to go after the gangs that are really doing damage to artists and studios, it has to be asked why are only individual families being targeted? it can only be because Hollywood etc want to try to scare ordinary people while being shit scared themselves to go after the true villains or are they actually in league with them?

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:06am

    'Zero trust granted' as the default

    Initially, AEPI was reluctant to hand over the relevant documents to allow the audit to take place, but here's what has just emerged:

    A better question might be why they're not audited on a regular basis by people where saying 'No' is a good way to get slapped with a massive fine and/or fired on the spot.

    If the justification for their existence is to collect money for artists and give money to artists then any deviation from that undermines the justification for them to exist and should be harshly scrutinized and/or punished. As such regular if random checks of the books should be the norm, and any hesitation on the part of the agency to open the books should result in the one stonewalling being fired and the agency investigated by an independent party.

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

  • identicon
    anonymous Dutch coward, 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:19am

    a greek thing

    losing other peoples money is a greek thing.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:24am

    How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

    You list a handful of persons while every day MILLIONS get deserved value from copyrighted products, and BILLIONS enjoy those in a system that benefits all.

    The indirect approach is all you've ever had, all you've got, and all you're ever going to have because:

    1) Copyright / patents are directly in the body of the US Constitution. It's ancient as human creation, simply recognizing personal achievement and common law of "I made it, it's mine." (That applies even to group efforts of huge corporations.)

    2) You did NOT make it, and have ZERO rights to what others have made. Basic law simply applied to intangibles.

    3) Copyright has a HUGE body of public recognition, common practices, and statute WORLD-WIDE. I doubt there's a single nation without it in some degree.

    4) Copyright protections are available to everyone who can construct complete sentences. -- No, hell, I've glanced into James Joyce: random words and even mere characters will do!

    5) Entertainment -- even of cleverly arranged characters, like ASCII art -- is of value in the modern world, and it's an acceptable way to trade your expenditure of time with others.

    6) Oh, and you are pirates and freeloaders, simply want content for free.


    Your active and malicious undermining of the fundamental laws above is why I fervently hope your little blog is taken away due to your unrelenting urge to needlessly insult.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:36am

      Re: How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

      You did NOT make it, and have ZERO rights to what others have made.

      The Studios, labels and publisher do not make content either, but they see to be able to keep almost all of the income in their own pockets, while paying a pittance or nothing to most of those who actually created the content.

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

      • identicon
        RedBeard, 27 Mar 2017 @ 2:05pm

        Re: Re: How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

        Arrrghhh!!! We call that slavery.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:38am

      Anomalies! Anomalies everywhere!

      I love how you've got such a hate-on for TD that you'll even defend blatant fraud so long as it's performed by 'your team'.

      For all the cries about how terrible those blasted pirates are for 'stealing' from the artists you jumped at the chance to defend those doing just that with a subtle-as-a-sledgehammer-to-the-face 'But look at something other than that!, mixed in with the usual baseless accusations and personal attacks.

      Such delightful and telling standards you've got there.

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

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:49am

      Re: How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

      Aside from the usual misrepresentation of both the repeatedly stated stance here on copyright, and your invented motives for this strawman, there was zero attack on copyright whatsoever in the article.

      What are the royalties on a broken record now?

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

    • identicon
      Unanimous Cow Herd, 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:59am

      Re: How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

      The article was about collection society abusing copyright law. The collection society created nothing. Your entire argument is invalid. RTFA FFS!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2017 @ 11:20am

      Re: How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

      Blame people for insults, the next sentence after you insult those people. Project much?

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

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 27 Mar 2017 @ 11:39am

      Re: How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

      How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

      Here in Canada that would be SOCAN. It doesn't matter whether you dismiss them as skimmers and lawyers. THEY speak for musicians. THEY bribe, er, hold fundraisers for politicians to get favorable legislation passed.

      There's no popular uprising among musicians to change this.

      You did NOT make it, and have ZERO rights to what others have made.

      Back when the recordable media tariff passed here in Canada, as a programmer and photographer I was going through several CD-Rs a day making backups and distributing software and pictures.

      Most of the cost of the CD-Rs went to the musicians via SOCAN. In return, private copying was explicitly made legal. (Copyright is really the right to publish and make money of your work. Bit Torrent, which uploads to random strangers, IS publishing and a violation. Private copying is not.)

      So... If I have zero rights to their music, why to do they have a non-zero right to my money?

      Copyright has a HUGE body of public recognition, common practices, and statute WORLD-WIDE.

      No-one is contradicting this. Reporting the corruption does not contradict this.

      Oh, and you are pirates and freeloaders, simply want content for free.

      Funny how you say this about those who oppose the corruption in the collection societies, while ALSO describing the collection societies as "greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers."

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2017 @ 12:06pm

      Re: How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

      Yawn.

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

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 27 Mar 2017 @ 12:46pm

      Re: How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

      It's ancient as human creation, simply recognizing personal achievement and common law of "I made it, it's mine."

      Actually, copyright (which is relatively new in the scope of human creation) goes against most common law principles concerning property.

      The "I made it, it's mine." part fits okay, but you conveniently left out the part of copyright that says "I sold it to you, but it's still mine".

      Common law property principles have always recognized that transfer of ownership terminates the property rights of the original owner. Copyright violates this common law principle by granting extra rights to the original owner after the sale.

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

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 29 Mar 2017 @ 6:02am

        Re: Re: How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

        **It's ancient as human creation, simply recognizing personal achievement and common law of "I made it, it's mine."**

        So much wrong...

        Copyright is actually a recent development given that we've got about six thousand years of recorded history. It's not even a thousand years old.

        Copyright does not recognise personal achievement at all. It merely reserves to the artist or creator the sole right to make money from their work "For limited times." Therefore it does not confer, nor does it recognise any kind of property right in the actual work, though the rights to the work can be bought, sold, or otherwise transferred. If I recorded myself burping that would be automatically copyrighted per the letter of the law. Achievement unlocked?

        As for "I made it, it's mine," I make a lot of things every day in the course of my job. I use email templates and wording I've developed myself which are, per the letter of the law, copyright. Per my employment contract the actual copyright resides with the company. I made it, it's my employer's and is a condition of the job. I can't ding my employer for royalties if colleagues use my Screwfix email template and there's no point at all in claiming credit for:

        _Good afternoon,

        please find attached PO XX for quote no. Axxx.

        Tradecard: XXXX

        Please deliver to XX FAO XX/Our engineer XX will collect the item from Screwfix XX._


        Help yourself, it makes no difference to me. If I made email templates like the one above and tried to sell them I doubt I would get very far. Copyright revenues depend on market demand. If people don't want to buy your product in the first place, no amount of protectionism will make them shell out. QED, your argument is invalid. Now run along. You're making a fool of yourself. Again.

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

    • identicon
      RedBeard, 27 Mar 2017 @ 2:03pm

      Re: How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

      Arrrrghhhhh!!!! You found us out me hearty. Off to the plank with ya!!!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2017 @ 6:23pm

      Re: How many more times are you going to attack copyright by way of stories about greedy skimmers, mostly lawyers?

      "unrelenting urge to needlessly insult"

      The irony, it burns.

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:46am

    Too big to get busted.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:50am

    And they want us to respect laws they broke when they will respect neither these same laws nor other more important ones. Right.

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

  • identicon
    My_Name_Here, 27 Mar 2017 @ 4:02pm

    Culture, not collection agencies

    If you look at the four cited cases (India, Spain, Peru, and now Greece) you are looking at 4 countries that are well known for systemic corruption from top to bottom. From Governments that spend without concern to politicians breaking the law to individuals and companies cheating on their taxes, those are places that are at or neat the top of the lists when it comes to corruption.

    Most of the cases involve one of more individuals within those agencies working to make themselves rich. They are criminals, not unlike what you find in many companies and organizations around the world.

    Is it shameful? Yes. Does it mean that these organizations are a failure? Nope. You cannot draw such a conclusion from the illegal acts of a very few.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2017 @ 5:56pm

      Re: Culture, not collection agencies

      Your friend up in the comments a bit didn't have any problem calling everyone here pirates. So ya know glass houses and such...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:31pm

      Re: Culture, not collection agencies

      The funny thing is, when India decided that harsher penalties were needed for merely visiting a possibly copyright-infringing site you had no issue with their "systemic corruption". Now why is that?

      Or what about Iceland? You know, the one where the boss of SMAIS got his feelings hurt on Facebook and you defended him so valiantly... shortly after which he was charged for fraud and embezzlement, in a country that ranked 14th least corrupt. Funny - it seems that such organizations regularly exhibit such behavior regardless of the country they come from.

      (Also, consider yourself engaged and no longer able to whine about how nobody reads your drivel, forcing you to use search engines to trawl the threads for your self-congratulatory masturbation.)

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

      • identicon
        My_Name_Here, 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:53pm

        Re: Re: Culture, not collection agencies

        The truth is I think India is a totally corrupted culture. It's a culture that treats people different as a result of their birth (caste) and has corrupt officials at every level.

        I actually don't remember commenting either way on the "merely visiting" story, but I will say that it is just words out of a politicians mouth and not the law in any manner. Did you know one Indian MP recently beat an airline employee with a shoe for not giving him a business class seat, on a plane that had no business class? This guy actually bragged about hitting the employee 25 times on twitter and facebook.

        Iceland? Isn't that the country that stiffed every bank in the world by going bankrupt? Yeah, I remember that place!

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 6:28pm

          Re: Re: Re: Culture, not collection agencies

          Except that you seem to enjoy taking the words out of politicians' mouths, given how authoritarian you are.

          And I suppose you're right; if one place is corrupt there's no point taking any portion of its entirety seriously. Since collecting societies seem thoroughly corrupt, there's no point taking any of them seriously, no matter where they come from.

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

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 11:41am

    No reporting?

    _According to the audit, AEPI’s IT system tasked with handling royalty payments was incapable of producing a report to compare royalties collected with royalties being paid out. _

    So you're telling me that the AEPI has been running since 2011 yet they don't have ANY reports to compare income (royalties collected) and expenses (royalties paid)?
    Either this is beyond gross negligence or it was done on purpose to hide the fact that they're not paying artists their fair share.
    I would say this "collection agency" should be shut down, but like people are saying, they probably grease the politicians enough to stay in business.

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

  • icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 2:08pm

    Again proving the old adage

    that there is no honor among thieves.

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

  • icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 30 Mar 2017 @ 7:50am

    Governments do it all the time. Just following their example!

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


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