Collection Agencies

A while back I wrote about the Dutch national collection agency for music rights (performance and otherwise). That was related to a plan which was to charge webpage owners (i.e. individuals) a flat rate for embedding up to six videos in the page. This met with — rather confused, I said at the time — political opposition, and the plan was subsequently shelved. Today the collection agency Buma announced that it had reached an agreement with YouTube for an undisclosed sum; for this, YouTube obtains blanket permission to host (and redisplay) videos containing music that are otherwise subject to licensing in the Netherlands. Recall that Dutch copyright law is a little peculiar and downloading is — for the time being — allowed, it’s the making available that violates the copyrights.

The Dutch privacy organization Bits of Freedom (site is in Dutch) is, on the one hand, happy to have clarity, but at the same time there’s now a very strange situation: music videos hosted on YouTube are “vogelvrij” while all other video platforms are still encumbered. In addition, the artists are once again screwed over, as Buma has just sold (for an undisclosed sum) all these rights — for 15000 domestic artists and 2 million foreign ones. So if I were an artist (those of you who have heard me sing at conferences .. well, lucky you) I’d be kind of annoyed at this point, either for being sold out for too little under a blanket or for being sold out at all.

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