You wouldn’t steal a car, you wouldn’t steal a handbag…
We all know how the rest goes, because thanks to the Motion Picture Association Of America and their foreign associates, every time you hire a DVD, you have to sit through this ad before you get to the main menu. But in what must be the most delicious slice of irony served this year, it has just been discovered that that the music used to soundtrack this 50-second pain in the ass is actually stolen.
Netherlands composer Melchior Rietveldt composed that ominous techno tune for a local film festival after being asked by anti-piracy group BREIN, who are funded by Hollywood. A few years later, he got himself a copy of Harry Potter on DVD and noticed his music was suddenly being used for much wider use than he had originally agreed to in contract. Which essentially means that when they say ‘you wouldn’t steal a television’, that doesn’t quite extend to intellectual property.
Legal estimates put the amount of money Rietveldt is owed by pretty much every movie house on Earth at somewhere close to €1 million. Matters got even worse when the chairman of the board of the royalty collection agency in the Netherlands offered to help recoup the funds – but only if he could take a 33% cut. It’s bad timing particularly for the US, where the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is currently a hot topic for its intended transferral of responsibility for pirated from individuals back to small businesses and web hosts. After all, if they can’t even look after their own ads, how can they expect anybody else to abide by the law?
Excuse us, we’re just going out to steal a handbag.