Did Peermusic (Peer) steal Guillermo Venegas (GVL) songs?

You be the judge, but these are the facts:

    Peermusic alleges to be "reputable", "premier", "pioneer" and large music publisher.

"without the author suspecting"
    This article is about a Peer letter (below) requesting that GVL songs be "acquired" from whatever source "without the author suspecting" so as to get copyright registrations (in name of Peer, of course!). Clearly it was the intention not to ask GVL if he wrote the songs to be "acquired" or if he had previously assigned rights to others or if he wanted to publish or not to publish (note 1) the songs or what were the correct melody, lyrics or even the song names (note 6). Clearly it was the intention also not to tell GVL that Peer was thereafter exploting the songs for money (note 2) .

    To be "acquired", were songs not composed by GVL such as "Borracho sentimental". GVL, who had at one time signed a songwriter agreement with Peer that had soured into a "horrible" (note 3) relationship, probably thinking a clerical mistake had been made, notified Peer that he did not compose "Borracho sentimental" and that his name be removed from the song. Peer ignored GVL and at present still clings to the false proposition that GVL composed the song and that he assigned the copyrights to Peer. Strangely, this song is still licensed by Peer and BMI (on behalf of Peer) as a GVL  song.

    Peer registered "Borracho sentimental" at the U.S. Copyright Office in 1970 (reg. PA 45-554) as composed by GVL and owned by Peer. Peer has (this is incredible) even sued a third party for its "unauthorized" use of the song "Borracho sentimental" in Puerto Rico Federal District Court (Peer/BMI v. LAMCO, 97-CV-2875). From whom did Peer steal the song? This is still unknown.

    Other songs in the letter (below), such as "Llega la noche"and "Cariño" are believed to be not composed by GVL but Peer claims GVL gave them to Peer (note 4).

The trial:
    The letter was presented in Venegas vs. Peer and ACEMLA - LAMCO parties (case # 01cv1215)  at San Juan Federal District Court, Judge José A. Fusté. The lawsuit filed by Venegas parties were for copyright infringement and did not cover the act of illegal appropiation or  fraud or contract violations (these may come later on). At the trial Peer admitted no wrongful acts, and instead claimed it had a right to acquire Venegas songs "without the author suspecting". Peer laywyer, well known attorney Barry Slotnick, argued in closing that Peer did not have to give GVL heirs any information (including the requested GVL signed documents that showed  which songs GVL had assigned to Peer). During the trial Peer did not or could not show the requested GVL signed documents for 20 of 22 songs Peer claimed GVL assigned to Peer.

The signatures: During trial Peer presented several song "assignment"  documents with purported GVL signatures. Peer admitted that the signatures were were made by its own employees (note 5) .

Thr trial ended 12-19-03 and as of this writing sentencing is pending.

THE LETTER  (original letter, in spanish, can be viewed here)

To Angel I. Fonfrias     April 24, 1964
Reference: Guillermo Venegas

Dear Fonfrias

Opportunely I received your letter of  March 17 where you inform me that the referenced author is willing to pay us what he owes us in exchange for us giving him his “release”, as well as your letter of April 15 asking me to prepare and send you the necessary documents.

With this letter I send you a quadripartite letter directed to Peer International Corporation that should be signed by Guillermo Venegas with all the copies. You will notice it is dated April 29 to allow time for you to contact the author, so try to get this letter signed on that date. You return to me all the copies to have them signed by one of our executives and at the right moment I will send you two copies, one for the author and one for your files.

Do not forget that he should give you the amount of $412.65, which I will appreciate you send me.

I have made a study of the works of this author and I find that we have not received various manuscripts, reason for their not being registered in Washington. Is there a way to get said manuscripts without the author suspecting that we need them to register in Washington? The titles are:
   “CARIÑO”                                                      “RECORDACION”
   “NO VUELVAS MAS”                                     “NADA PUEDO HACER”
   “NI A LA DISTANCIA”                                     “AUSENCIA”
   “BORRACHO SENTIMENTAL”                        “NO, NO DIGAS NADA”
   “NOCHE SIN TI”                                             “TU PARTIDA”
   “LLEGA LA NOCHE”                                      “NO ACEPTO OLVIDO”

If you think that it is too big of a risk to talk to the composer over this matter, then try to see if you can find recordings, etc. etc.

Without further ado, for the present, best regards from

Alberto Salinas


Note 1. An artists has the "moral right" to withdraw a work from circulation anytime he or she wishes.
Note 2. A question raised here is how was the composer's suspicion to be avoided if the songs made money and royalties were paid to the composer. Perhaps the plan was to not pay any royalties at all?

Note 3. Peer documents state that Guillermo Venegas said that Peer did not promote his music and that the Venegas-Peer relationship was horrible. Evidence shown during trial indicates that Peer has NEVER issued a new record license for any of the approximately 20 songs that Peer claims were assigned to Pee by GVL about 50 years ago.

Note 4. Peer has not shown any "proof" documents to heirs/plaintiffs before and during trial.

Note 5. Forgery of signatures for the purpose of illegal acts is a crime. The documents with Peer created GVL signatures were sent by Peer to the U.S. Copyright Office as proof that GVL had assigned the song rights to Peer.

Note 6. A result of the Peer method of "acquiring" song from any sources but the the composer, and its total lack of respect for said composer, Peer renamed one of the songs in the letter, NO, NO DIGAS NADA as NO DIGAS NADA (which is the correct name for another GVL song) and thoroughly disfigured the lyrics. Below are the GVL and the Peer lyrics for the same song. Bold text denotes changes and deletions (xxxxxxxx):
Lyrics by Guillermo Venegas

Afuera esta la luna llena
Como esperando mi cantar 
Porque no sabe que una pena
Lleno toda mi vida esta noche pasional
El mar besando va la arena
Y yo no ceso de llorar

La noche entro por mi ventana
Con el recuerdo de tu amor
Y una estrellita muy lejana
Tal vez muy parecida
a la dueña de mi vida
Me contempla sorpredida
Como queriendome hablar

No, no, no digas nada
No, no, no
No, no, no
Que puede destrozarme el corazon
Ay no, no
No quiero que me cuentes de mi amada
Y menos si la han visto apasionada
Rendida entre los brazos de otro amor

No, no, no digas nada
No, no, no
No, no, no 
Que puede destrozarme el corazon 

Peer Version 

Afuera esta la luna llena
Como implorando mi cantar
Una estrellita muy lejana
Tal vez muy parecida
El mar besando va la arena
Y yo no ceso de llorar

La noche entro por mi ventana
Como esperando mi cancion
Y una estrellita muy lejana
Tal vez muy parecida
A la dueña de mi vida
Me contesta sorprendida
Que no la puedo olvidar

No, ay, no digas nada
No, no, no Que puede destrozarme
El corazon, ay no
No digas nada
Y menos si la ha visto apasionada
Enchida y en los brazos de otro amor


The letter (original version in spanish):

Guillermo Venegas Lloveras web page home
(click here if left frame home link is not available)