Another Royalty Ripoff!

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  • #34192 Reply

    Thanks jdt9517 but I believe (and MichaelL will correct me if I’m wrong), it takes $75k to bring a copyright claim to a federal court. I actually did think about taking it to small claims court though.

    Hi Art, That’s not correct. The $75K you mention is the amount in controversy requirement for cases being brought under diversity jurisdiction. For example, residents of two different states might bring state tort claims in federal court under diversity jurisdiction. In contrast, copyrights are governed by federal law. Federal courts have federal question jurisdiction over copyright claims. There is no amount in controversy requirement for cases brought under federal question jurisdiction. That requirement was eliminated in 1980. It is the potential cost of litigation that is prohibitive.

    jdt9517 brings up an interesting point. In your case, however, the production company paid a license fee to use your music. Through that license, you have given them permission to use your music within the limits of the license. Assuming that the networks and cable channels pay some kind of blanket fee to the PROs, the question is whether or not BMI and Numerator are doing their job. Neither BMI nor Numerator are using your music, so they are not infringing on your copyright. It seems that the fundamental issue between you and BMI is contractual, whether or not it is upholding its obligation (if such exists) to use its best efforts to collect royalties on your behalf.

    I do agree with jdt9517 regarding the importance of registering your copyrights. But, be aware that timing is everything. If you wait too long you can severely limit potential damages and lose the ability to collect legal fees. Many infringement claims are never made for this reason. The movement for a “small claims” copyright court is not about the amount in controversy, but rather about making pursuing claims and enforcing copyrights “affordable.”

    #34193 Reply

    I emailed the Your Music Your Future folks after the Discovery victory and said they should keep the momentum going. If there isn’t some kind of lobbying effort or union of some sort to rep composers, I see continuing problems.

    #34194 Reply
    Art Munson

    Hi Art, That’s not correct.

    Thanks Michael, I knew you would keep me honest! 🙂

    #34195 Reply

    Michael is right about federal question jurisdiction. The $75k “diversity jurisdiction” requirement is not applicable. While I haven’t looked deeply into it, one who has a registered copyright has a statutory right to get paid for a performance. It would seem to me that everyone in the chain would be joined in the action, from the end user to the PRO. The composer merely demonstrates the performances and no payment. They can point the fingers at each other and explain why the composer should not be paid by them. I don’t think a federal judge would be very happy about a scheme where payment to the composer gets bypassed completely. Somebody will pay.

    The case would have to be brought in federal court. State small claims court does not have jurisdiction.

    BTW, my “real job” is a lawyer and I do a lot of federal practice. I have defended actions by copyright holders where a nightclub or sports bar performs registered copyrighted material. They are ugly. Settlements are in the tens of thousands of dollars for for one unlawful performance.

    #34196 Reply
    Art Munson

    BTW, my “real job” is a lawyer and I do a lot of federal practice.

    Thanks for the clarity jdt9517. I guess we are forming an MLR legal team. Hah!

    #34197 Reply

    Art, my hope is that the ads will eventually make it to Competitrack, and the Pharmaceutical explanation makes NO sense whatsoever.

    Please keep us updated on this. Especially if you hire a “royalty recovery” specialist. We have run into similar situations. Furthermore, even on spots that Competitrack DOES recognize, it seems that iSpot recognized many more airings than Competitrack.

    Frustrating to say the least.

    #34198 Reply

    Michael & JDT, I’m not sure how “big” this problem is overall, but it sounds like it might be. If there are enough composers affected who could viably claim copyright violation and subsequent loss of performance royalties (AND willing to participate, of course), would a Class Action lawsuit be worth considering? I don’t often jump to legal recourse as the answer, but if enough individual attempts reach dead ends, it might be a consideration. A well versed Lawyer or Law Firm might be interested in at least looking into this and possibly pursuing it. Thoughts?

    #34199 Reply

    I Spot and Numerator need to be perceived as equals. They offer very similar data.

    Meanwhile ASCAP continues to email the hell out out of us to sign up and Pay for their ASCAP Expo in LA.
    The PRO’s all clearly show a pattern of honoring data when it works for them and not honoring hard evidence/ data when it may mean they have to cut a big check. Isn’t it interesting that ASCAP uses SOUNDMOUSE for TV broadcast proof/ verification and composers do not even get a copy of the reports/ detections?

    Art this will help you learn which networks Numerator monitors:

    This will be a good refresher for all:

    And indeed, absolutely, THE PMA, MLR Members, YOur Music Your Future members…we desperately need to unionize, and protect our future. After doing this dance for 20 years, I still do not see any improvements with transparency as it relates to PRO Payments. I mean, yesterday as I was flipping through cue sheets inside ascap, you have no idea how many broadcasts are in there that just NEVER PAY. The cue sheet is filed yet we still do not get paid. BTN, ESPN, Major League Baseball games, UFC Broadcasts…the list goes on ad on.

    -The first policy change a legal team needs to “win” is making it illegal to direct license and broadcast on cable TV networks PRO Registered music. The PRO’s need to change that Policy asap.

    -Secondly, the legal team needs to threaten TV show production companies that engage in extortion where they (The client) makes themselves “Publisher” through bullying libraries who should be getting full credit as publisher but instead are forced to retitle and re-register entire catalogs!
    -Libraries need to stop “Bribing” TV show production companies with the publishing share drug they are offering to win the the contract as music supplier.

    -Libraries need to stop selling direct blanket licenses to various shows and networks letting them off the hook for Cue Sheets and performance royalties (ESPN, SCRIPPS)

    I am not in on these meetings between Libraries and TV Show Producers, but my hunch is that it’s a combination of both bribery and extortion.

    #34201 Reply
    Michele Vice-Maslin

    yes SESAC indeed with Tunesat (and Bmat)

    Try seeing if Chris at Tunesat can help you with this. It is really awful and heartbreaking.

    Also see if the PMA can help you.

    I myself have seen that ad quite a few times.

    I have a BMI co-writer who did not get paid royalties on 3 ads we did because BMI was requiring to see and file a copy of the contract and I had to sign an NDA with the product company therefore I could not share the contract and my BMI co-writer did not get paid. Just Tragic all this stuff is!!!

    #34202 Reply
    Art Munson

    Try seeing if Chris at Tunesat can help you with this.

    Yes, I had thought of that (but forgot). Thanks Michele, will send him an e-mail.

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