‘Corrupt’ performing rights society board member to face the music

A board member of rights management company Buma/Stemra which represents composers and music publishers has stepped down amid allegations of corruption, the Volkskrant writes on Thursday.

Broadcaster Powned recorded a conversation between Jochem Gerrits and the lawyer of composer Melchior Rietveldt who claims the organisation owes him at least €1m in lost copyright fees.
Rietveldt wrote a piece of music for an anti-piracy ad which was widely distributed without his knowledge. In spite of numerous requests he was never paid for the reproduction of his music.
During the conversation Gerrits offers to bring up the matter during a board meeting on the condition that a third of the proceeds will be paid out to him.
When the lawyer points out that handing over a third of the money for something that rightfully belongs to his client, Gerrits, who denies wrongdoing, says: ‘You have to look at it positively, he could otherwise end up with nothing.’
This is not the first time Buma/Stemra has been accused of violating authors’ rights. Singer and composer Rob Bolland has a long drawn out conflict with the company for distributing his work – including In the army now – abroad without payment.
Bolland, who claims the company owes him €2.5m has been forcibly removed from the Buma/Stemra premises by the police on more than occasion.
Extravagant salaries
Earlier this year, musicians Henk Westbroek and Hans Kosterman, who are also on the board, claimed there is a culture of secrecy and fear at the company. They also complained about the extravagant salaries paid out to some board members.
D66 MP Kees Verhoeven has proposed appointing competition watchdog NMa to keep an eye on Buma/Stemra and other rights management companies.

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