I caught this one off of my TechDirt feed.  It seems that a band had licensed a work under a Creative Commons License. (There are several types of Creative Commons Licenses but they are all pretty much self descriptive.)  More specifically, in this case, it was a non-commercial, non-derivative, attribution type of license.  So it is okay to use such a piece, unaltered, non-commercially, as long as attribution is given.  According to the TechDirt article and the article it references at Technollama, a movie theater not only used it in a commercial but gave no attribution and altered it slightly!

The band opted not to accept a settlement and sued for copyright infringement.  The Belgium Court agreed, from Technollama;

The court acknowledged the licensing under the CC license and the fact that the theater did not respect any of the license features:

  • no attribution was made
  • the music was slightly modified for the ad
  • the advertisement, even for a theater, was a commercial use prohibited by the license.

The actual documents are available but they are in French. From what I see, the theater violated every term of the license. The band was awarded 4500€, 1500 Euros for each attribution of the license not respected.

I find this to be most interesting in terms of appropriate intellectual property rights. First, it shows that, at least in Belgium, the courts have respected the CC license.  There was a violation of how the artists wished their material distributed, the theater, although claiming good will and ignorance, violated the license.

Second, the case was directly between the right holder and the violator (and, unlike the RIAA cases the accused knew they were being sued).  I don’t know how much or how little the settlement actually adds up to.  Doing a quick Google search, I am told it is just over 6,250 US dollars.

I reckon the RIAA would think that figure low.  I also have to wonder how many “infringed” RIAA artists have seen that much money in a settlement?