Hoisting a few with Captain Petard

Pop open a DVD these days, and something like this — which you can’t bypass — gets into your face:

And the guy who wrote the music didn’t get paid for it, either:

It all started back in 2006, when the Hollywood-funded anti-piracy group BREIN reportedly asked musician Melchior Rietveldt to compose music for an anti-piracy video. The video in question was to be shown at a local film festival, and under these strict conditions the composer accepted the job.

However, according to a report from Pownews the anti-piracy ad was recycled for various other purposes without the composer’s permission. When Rietveldt bought a Harry Potter DVD early 2007, he noticed that the campaign video with his music was on it. And this was no isolated incident.

The composer now claims that his work has been used on tens of millions of Dutch DVDs, without him receiving any compensation for it. According to Rietveldt’s financial advisor, the total sum in missed revenue amounts to at least a million euros ($1,300,000).

And that’s just from the Netherlands; this video clip has seemingly been shoehorned into DVDs from Kyrgyzstan to Kashmir. There’s nothing to connect BREIN itself to the, um, piracy, but somebody stuck it to Rietveldt.

Laws against that sort of thing? Of course. But look what happened when the composer sought help from his performing-rights agency:

Soon after he discovered the unauthorized distribution of his music Rietveldt alerted the local music royalty collecting agency Buma/Stemra. The composer demanded compensation, but to his frustration he heard very little from Buma/Stemra and he certainly didn’t receive any royalties.

Earlier this year, however, a breakthrough seemed to loom on the horizon when Buma/Stemra board member Jochem Gerrits contacted the composer with an interesting proposal … the composer had to assign the track in question to the music publishing catalogue of Gerrits, who owns High Fashion Music. In addition to this, the music boss demanded 33% of all the money set to be recouped as a result of his efforts.

Which, if nothing else, demonstrates that watchers pretty much always have to be watched.

(Via this Bill Peschel tweet.)

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