A musician called Melchior Rietveldt was commissioned by the Dutch copyright-lobbying group BREIN to compose an anthem for an "anti-piracy" video. According to Rietveldt, BREIN licensed his work for a single use. However, the film industry has gone on to use the music in those crappy anti-piracy ads they run at the start of DVDs telling you off for being a pirate when you've just bought the DVD you're watching. Rietveldt's representatives claim that tens of millions of Dutch DVDs contain his composition, and that he's owed more than EUR1M.
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. Gerrits offered to help out the composer in his efforts to get paid for his hard work, but the music boss had a few demands of his own.
In order for the deal to work out the composer had to assign the track in question to the music publishing catalogue of the Buma/Stemra board member. In addition to this, the music boss demanded 33% of all the money set to be recouped as a result of his efforts.
It gets worse. Click through to read how Gerrits was recorded making this demand, and what happened next.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.