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