Evoke and GEMA
On Copyright collectives
Organizing Evoke as a non-profit organization has always been a great plus for us. We save some taxes, the association bears the financial risk, and it clearly shows all our partners that our primary focus is on the matter, not on the profits.
However, with those goodies always come some downsides, mostly a lot of paperwork and an often even stricter obligation to comply to certain rules. The bigger the event, the bigger the location, and with this, the bigger the obligations. Among other things, we need an insurance for various things, and hell, yes, we need to announce our event to the German copyright association for musicians, GEMA.
For those that do not know them: "GEMA represents some 65,000 composers, authors and music publishers and the rights of more than a million copyright owners internationally whose works are used in Germany. Its purpose is to collect royalty fees from the organisers of public events where music protected by GEMA is played as well as media manufacturers and publishers and broadcasting stations." as Wikipedia puts it.
As demosceners, we see copyright collectives with quite some suspicion. Still, at least for the moment, they exist and they have all right to make their business and pay Justin's bills.
To avoid paying licensing fees for Evoke (which would amount to about 4,500 Euros for each Evoke) we must not to play any song made by an artist registered with the GEMA or any sibling association (this includes similar copyright associations/collectives abroad, most of them are internationally represented by an organization called BIEM). This counts for the main hall only, we found a nice solution for the outside tents.
How they know what we played, you might ask? Well, we have to tell them. In fact, we need to submit lists of every song to them that we played. Each and every one, including the artist’s full name.
That’s why a few years ago we changed all compo rules in the way that no artist registered with the GEMA or any sibling association is allowed to participate. Until this very day we have not heard any bad comment on that from any of you, probably because you share our opinion that we like to support musicians but not those who need a copyright collective.
This is why we need to ask you to confirm on each and every entry at Evoke that you are not a member of the GEMA or any other copyright collective. It allows us to provide the GEMA with the list of tracks played at Evoke.
This sounded like a very fair deal to us, and things were fine, until last year. After having submitted the track list to the GEMA, we were informed that a musician had entered a song with us who was a member of a BIEM copyright collective.
The problem is, he was sure that he could decide which tracks are covered by the copyright collective and which tracks are not. That is almost always wrong with any copyright collective because it would make their job impossible. It is wrong for the GEMA for sure. As a GEMA member you do not have a choice. Yes, that makes it very difficult for GEMA members to release any music in the demoscene without causing trouble for organizers and even all the website admins who trust you to only release things that are free to spread, broadcast and download.
In 2011, we were very close to having to pay almost 5,000 Euros to the GEMA, which is money we did not have. We were very lucky that the GEMA employees dealing with our case was turning a blind eye to that incident. Here’s to GEMA actually helping us out of the mess this one artist had created. In the end we had to pay a moderate fee. Next time we will probably not be so lucky. Please know that an additional payment of next to 5,000 Euros would threaten Evoke’s future.
To make a long story short, please, read our rules. Do not contribute if you are a BIEM member! Contact us when in doubt. We’re happy to help.