“The Internet Attacks The Iberian ASCAP!”

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Los internautas llevan a la SGAE ante el fiscal Anticorrupción: “Spanish Internauts bring SGAE up on charges with the Anticorruption prosecutor.” El País reports.

The SGAE is the Sociedad General de Autores e Editores — call it something akin to the Spanish ASCAP, I guess.

La guerra abierta que mantienen los internautas contra la Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE), encargada de la gestión de los derechos de autor de los creadores y artistas, se ha trasladado al ámbito judicial. Las dos principales asociaciones de este colectivo -Asociación de Internautas (AI) y Asociación [Española] de Usuarios de Internet (AUI)- presentaron ayer una denuncia ante la Fiscalía Anticorrupción para que investigue a la SGAE por los presuntos delitos de apropiación indebida, estafa y fraude de subvenciones.

The open war being waged by Internauts against the SGAE, which manages royalties for creators and artists, has moved into the courts. The two principal organizations representing this group — The Association of Internauts and the Association of Internet Users — yestereday filed charges with the Anticorruption office of the national prosecutor, asking it to investigate the SGAE for alleged crimes of misappropriation, crimes against private property by fraudulent means (estafa) and defrauding public subsidies.

Among the “corporate associates” of the AUI:

  1. Telefónica
  2. ING Direct
  3. Orange
  4. The OVSI Foundation

La denuncia señala que directivos de la SGAE han obtenido presuntamente una serie de beneficios económicos a través de la creación de una trama de sociedades limitadas que se financian de los fondos procedentes de la recaudación de derechos de autor, pese a que la SGAE, como entidad de gestión colectiva, está obligada por ley a no ejercer actividades con ánimo de lucro.

The charges state that SGAE executives have obtained a series of economic benefits from creating a network of limited partnerships financed with funds from the collection of royalties, despite the fact that the SGAE, as a non-profit collective, is required by law not to engage in for-profit activities.

A la denuncia se han unido también la Asociación Española de Pequeñas y Medianas Empresas de Informática y Nuevas Tecnologías (APEMIT) la Asociación Española de Hosteleros Víctimas del Canon (VACHE).

Joining the complaint are the Spanish Association of Small and Midsize Computer and New Technology Companies (APEMIT) [and] the Spanish Association of Hosts Victimized by the “Canon” (VACHE).

I cannot see that the vast organization behind VACHE is not just some guy with a blog. Still checking. Oh, okay, here is their Web site.

Who are these people? Whois on the domain:

Yelm
Antonio Jacome
C/Ronda de Cavaleri
Sevilla, Sevilla 41927
ES
+34.629560805
info@niologic.com

Is this a reference to the cosmology of Runequest?

Aether ruled through his three sons Dayzatar, Yelm and Lodril. Of these last three Yelm strove for supremacy, and took upon himself the title of the Emperor. When from the union of Sky and Earth sprang Umath, the Primal Storm, Sky’s time of Stewardship had gone, and Air was to take over. Dayzatar withdrew even further, and practical-minded Lodril turned to his work. But vain Yelm refused to pass the stewardship to his brother. Thus strife entered the world, and the harmony of the court was broken.

Microsoft: “We are against the canon.”

There is a Web site on the issue known as Todos Contra El Canon.

What is “the canon”? Is Harold Bloom somehow to blame? I am still trying to find someone capable of taking a deep breath and briefing me on the issue.

El texto presentado ante la Fiscalía argumenta que sociedades como Microgénesis y Coqnet, ajenas en apariencia a la SGAE, hayan compartido sede social y directivos con la entidad de gestión, entre los que cita a José Luis Rodríguez Neri, Rafael Ramos Díaz o Eva García Pombo. Microgénesis ha desarrollado para la SGAE el sistema de gestión Teseo; La Central Digital, que comercializa contenidos musicales a través de Internet, y la web de Portal Latino.

The complaint filed with the Fiscalia argues that partnerships like Microgeneis and Coqnet, which appear to be separate from the SGAE, share the same address and directors with the rights management agency, among whom are cited José Luis Rodríguez Neri, Rafael Ramos Díaz and Eva García Pombo. Microgénesis developed the management system known as Teseo for the SGAE, as well as La Central Digital, which sells musical content over the Internet, and the Portal Latino Web site.

“Estas cuentas evidencian la existencia de un entramado societario que no mantiene sólo las dos empresas antes citadas y además, lo hace con fines claramente lucrativos, (prohibido expresamente por ley), en el sentido de que sus socios obtienen una serie de beneficios económicos y comerciales como directivos de aquellas empresas (a costa de la SGAE y la protección legal que nuestro sistema de derecho ofrece a su gestión), sino también, el incumplimiento de otro importante mandato legal: ‘El reparto de los derechos recaudados se efectuará equitativamente entre los titulares de las obras o producciones utilizadas’ (art. 154.1 de la Ley de Propiedad Intelectual)”, dice expresamente el escrito presentado ante la Fiscalía.

“These accounts lay bare the existence of a network of partnerships that is maintained by the two firms just mentioned and others, and what is more, for clear profit-making purposes (expressly prohibited by law), in the sense that its partners obtain a series of economic and commercial benefits from their participation in these partnerships (at the expense of the SGAE and the legal protections that our system of authorial rights offers it). Further, it is in violation of another important legal mandate: “The distribution of the royalties collected shall be conducted in an equitable manner among the authors of the works or productions used” (Article 154.1 of the Intellectual Property Law,” reads the document delivered to the Fiscalia.

“Están invirtiendo las cantidades recaudadas en concepto de gestión de derechos de autor en el lucro propio de sus directivos, que si bien no participaron directamente, es evidente que lo favorecieron deliberadamente”, señalan los denunciantes.

“They are investing the money collected in a concept of rights mangement from which their directors profit, even though they do not participate directly, it is obvious that they deliberately favor it,” the complainants charge.

La denuncia añade que el sistema de recaudación de la sociedad cuyo consejo de dirección preside Teddy Bautista es “injusto” porque grava, por ejemplo, las actuaciones en televisión y las bodas, y se extralimita en la vigencia de los derechos.

The complaint adds that the royalty collections system used at the agency presided over by Teddy Bautista is “unfair” because, for example, it counts performances on television and at weddings, and exceeds the effective life-span of the royalties.”

We are talking about charging the bridge and groom if they have someone sing “We’ve Only Just Begun” at their reception, I guess.

I am humming that catchy little Carpenters tune to myself at the moment.

Do I have to pay someone?

Pero los denunciantes no sólo apuntan a la SGAE. También acusan al Ministerio de Cultura de haber cerrado los ojos ante esta situación pese a las reiteradas denuncias tanto de los colectivos afectados como de las informaciones periodísticas.

But the SGAE is not the only party complained of. They also accuse the Ministry of Culture of having shut its eyes to the situation, despite repeated complaints from affected groups, such as producers of journalistic information (news).

“La indudable evidencia de la malversación habida, en la gestión de los recursos económicos de la SGAE, recursos que en ocasiones incluso son, o han sido, recursos públicos (subvenciones y ayudas) (…), nos obliga a poner de manifiesto la subsidiaria culpa in vigilando del Ministerio de Cultura, por ser el principal fiscalizador de la actividad de este tipo de asociaciones”, señala la denuncia.

“The evidence clearly shows the misappropriation that has gone on here in the management of SGAE assets, funds that in some cases are even public money (subsidies and grants in aid). We are therefore obliged to put the blame for lack of oversght on the Ministry of Culture, given that it is the principal regulator of such agencies,” the complaint reads.

And what are people on the other side of the dispute saying?

El País, a consulting client of the Innovation Worldwide newspaper consultancy, like Globo in Brazil, does not really do balance, I tend to find. See also

Libération (France) is another client. See also

It is always frustrating to read a news report on some very complicated dispute and come away with nothing but a vague sense that someone (but who? Who are these people? Who funds them?) is very, very upset about it — but with no real understanding of what the issue is actually about.

Let me see what I can dig up. Smells a bit like a Big Tech astroturf campaign, just from the preliminary vibes.

But who knows?

You are relying on El País to tell you the story.

And El País tends to be all moral panic and very little information.

“Everything will return to normal in Spain when the authorial rights managements bodies here, and their masters, the producers, stop lying to and insulting the Spanish people.”

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