The Peermusic Method for Getting Songs
(How Peermusic grabbed the music of Guillermo Venegas)
The Peer method for getting song rights consisted of the following elements:
- Hiring locals to recruit and pay songwriters
- Propaganda to get the songs from the songwriters.
- Get the songwriter to sign one sided contracts (in the wrong language)
- Violation of the laws of Puerto Rico
- Assignment of unnamed songs through blank (blanket) and lopsided contracts
- Getting and registering songs without the songwriter suspecting.
- Use of an illegal power of attorney
- Refusal to give songwriters or heirs information
- Reassignment request from heirs
Hiring locals to recruit and pay songwritersIn the beginning Peer opened an office in Puerto Rico headed by local composers and their relatives.Propaganda to get the songs from the songwriters
Frequntly these paid samll royalty "advancements" to songwrites when songwriters called to question about royalties.
As reported in El Tiempo.com on September 29, 2005"
Said Cuban composer Evelio Landa Martínez, at 83 years of age while deposing (abut his contracts): "To me it was all promises. My interst was to get my works known".Peer describes itself "largest independent music publisher in the world" and "respected". In fact Peer hardly publishes any music if simply placing songs in a catalog, as Peer does, is not "publishing". Peer managers promised (verbally of course) the songwriters that if the songwriter assigned their songs to Peer that each songs would:a. Be Published.The truth: Actual publishing of scores in Peer is a rare thing and when an actual publishing was done it was for a very brief period of time. The vast majority of songs were never published.b. Be Promoted
As an example, of the Guillermo Venegas songs claimed to be owned by Peer, only 2 of 29 had scores published and only for a short time. And Guillermo venegas was considered a major composer. Imagine the results for lesser important songwriters.
Note: Peer songwriter contract said that Peer was a publisher that "may publish" and later claimed that the contract did not oblige them to publish anything. a position that songwriters could not understand, as a way to promote songs through the selling of music scores, which also provided an additional royalty stream. A money stream which Peer songwrites hardly ever see on their royalty reports.
The truth: The songwriter was the one that promoted the songs or the songs promoted themselves after an initial recording promoted by the songwriter.c. Be recorded
Recently a musician asked Peer for some music scores for the purpose of recording some Guillermo venegas songs that Peer claimed to own. No reply was given by Peer to the musician. When a heir of Guillermo Venegas protested Peer claimed that they did not give the service. In the Venegas vs. Peer trial, Peer's lawyer claimed that the songs of Guillermo Venegas were not successful because they were not liked. In fact Peer did not have scores of most of the songs they claimed to own.
Imagine the results for lesser important songwriters.In 40-50 or so years of alleged assignment, only one GVL songs of 29 claimed to be owned by Peer was ever recorded under a Peer license. Imagine the results for lesser important songwriters.d. Make money for the songwriterIn 40-50 or so years of alleged assignment Guillermo Venegas's songs earned less that $1,000,000.d. Be assigned for one ot two years
Just one Guillermo venegas song not claimed by Peer earned about $400,000 in royalties from a single record. Note: The record producers (Sony and Sonolux) never paid the royalties and had to be sued by the heirs of Guillermo Venegas.
Of course, may records were sold while Peer claimed to own the songs but the royalties were either not collected, improperly collected, or illegally retained by Peer. As an example a records that sells an estimated 10,000 copies per year was generating about one dollar in royalties but these were paid to another songwriter. It is estimated that this one record alone should have paid about one million dollars, in current value. Think $1,000,000 = $70 payment to the wrong songwriter.
Average earnings per song per year for Guillermo Venegas songs: one dollar.
Imagine the results for lesser important songwriters.
Note: Peer has alleged that the royalties that they collected for Guillermo Venegas's song, Genesis, are sent to their (former) Mexico subsidiary, who is supposed to forward the royalties to the beneficial owners. Problem is the peer Mexico subsidiary does not pay anyone, per the words of a Peer manager. The Mexico publishr has never paid any royalties to the Venegas heirs in the 12 years after Guillermo Venegas passed away in 1993 for 7 songs that Peer claimed to own.
As reported at Guardian Unlimited on Thursday May 26, 2005:
"EMC (Editora Musical de Cuba) in turn claims it is trying to salvage royalties from songs it suggests have never made a penny for their impoverished authors."
As reported at http://www.telegraph.co.uk on 27/09/2005:
Mr Prescott (lawyer for Cuban composers) said:
- Peer's claims to the music of more than 600 Cuban composers were all invalid.
- "These contracts were so cunningly contrived as to allow the publishers to get away with paying the composers practically nothing. "The composers received nothing or, at most, a few pesos and a drink of rum."The trick was to make songwriters believe that if the assignments would work our the contract could be ended by the songwriter in one or two years. As the songwriters did not understand the contract (it was in English and full of legalese such a "renewal") nor did the songwriters have a chance to consult a lawyer. it turned out that Peer was getting irrevocable (per Peer's later advise to songwriters) lifetime assignments of the song, even if the song never made a single cent. For example, a Peer reports for the music of Guillermo Venegas say that 9/22 (songs allegedly directly assiged to Peer), or 41% of the songs never earned any money. This includes the song Tu bien lo sabes, a song recorded many times and alleged to be the first hit of Trio Los Panchos.Get the songwriter to sign lopsided contractsa. The contracts were in English, a language most songwriters did not understand.Violation of the laws of Puerto Rico
b. The contract did not have a performance clause. If the song made no money or too little money for the songwriter, there was no way out of the song assignment (Peer told the songwriters).
No copy of contract to authors
An interesting part of the "system", it is suspected, was that the contract would be signed by the author in Puerto Rico but not by Peer. The author would be told that the contract had to go to the New York office for a Peer approval and/or signature and under that pretense the author would not get a copy of the contract. Then a final copy of the contract would not be delivered, so that later on, the songwriters would never know what songs were assigned to Peer and what the terms were.
Note: In the Venegas vs. Peer lawsuit, no document proved that Guillermo Venegas was ever given a copy of any contract he signed.
a. Power of attorney not notarized. This alone made the contract an invalid one.Assignment of unnamed songs through blank (blanket) contracts.
b. Contract is not a public document. Song assignments in Puerto rico must be in public documents.
As reported at http://www.telegraph.co.uk on 27/09/2005:
But Editora Musical de Cuba (EMC) said the poor Cubans got virtually nothing. The contracts should not be recognized in law as they were "unconscionable bargains"Peer had a habit of getting songwriters to sign so called blanket assignment contracts,. The contract stated that during the contract period (one or two years) the songs written by the songwriter belonged to Peer. Then Peer proceeded to grab any song it wanted from the songwriter to later allege to the songwriter and others that a specific song was part of that contract. See footnote: Dame la mano paloma..Getting and registering songs "without the songwriter suspecting"
As a result, the songwriter got confused as to what songs the really assigned to Peer and if it was assigned what were the terms of the assignment contracts.
Imagine: There is one blank (blanket) songwriter-publisher contract with good terms for the songwriter and another contract with bad terms for the songwriter, both with no song named.. Then the publisher could claim that the big money earning songs were assigned through the contract of choice for the publisher. Guess which one will be picked?
Really blank contracts (A blank check)
Under some kind of ruse never explained by Peer, Peer got songwriters to sign really blank contracts that allegedly assigned unnamed songs to Peer under unspecified terms. Incredible. See one of these here. With one of these forms Peer could assign themselves any song they wished, without the author suspecting. Since there were no terms (royalty, duration, etc.) specified, Peer could then do whatever it wanted.After contracts were signed, Peer would get the songs from records in the market and from performers and not the author. Peer did not want to ask for the scores from the songwriter because then the songwriter would know that Peer would copyright register songs the author never gave Peer. See how Peer did it here: Without the author suspecting. Then Peer would register the songs at the US Copyright Office and then renew the songs years later with the filing of a document with a forged signature, allegedly under the guise it had a power of attorney, which was in fact illegal.Use of an illegal power of attorney
Here is a document allegedly signed by a William Venegas Lloveras, allegedly using the so called power of attorney. Guillermo actually disliked being called "William" because that was not his name.
Reassignment request fron songwriter
Later if a songwriter wanted out of the contract he/she would be given a two sheet document to sign. The page signed by the songwriter said nothing of importance. The unsigned and changeable first pager alleged to confirm that the songwriter had assigned specific songs which had never been mentioned in the original assignment contract. Theses documents were not public documents nor notarized. See here: Page 1 Page 2: This page says nothing.
Note: In the Venegas vs. Peer lawsuit, Peer presented a two page document signed by Guillermo Venegas on page 2, the page that said nothing. Peer used this document as proof that Guillermo Venegas assigned specific songs. No evidence exists that Peer ever gave a copy of this this two page document to Guillermo Venegas.
Peer contracts gave Peer a power of attorney but the contracts were not notarized nor public documents. Then the power was used to assign rights to Peer for songs that were not even named on an assignment contract. In fairness, Peer alleges that to renew rights to Peer, the power of attorney is not required and claims that there is jurisdiction to that effect.Refusal to give songwriters or heirs information
The power of attorney was also dubious because it was held (had it been legal) by a party with a conflict of interest (Peer) who would use it t assign themselves rights even though that operated againf the giver of the power of attorney. A power of attorney principle is thet the holder of the power must always decide to benefit the giver of the power, not the holder.
Note: When Peer used the power of attorney, it did not notify the songwriter that the power had been used for whatever purpose, such as giving song rights to Peer it was used.
Note: Publishers like Peer claim that they own the songs that are assigned to them by songwriters. But when someone buys a property that someone does not need a power of attorney from the previous owner to rent or sell the property. That is is because the new owner IS THE OWNER. Clearly music publishers need a legal (notarized) power of attorney only because they are not really the owner. They are just the managers ot the songs and they have a contractual obligation to manage the songs effectively so as to produce income for the songwriter.
Note: The Peer contracts say that the (illegal) power of attorney given by the song writer is "irrevocable". But the songwriter never had the opportunity to ask the notarizing lawyer what that meant, or if such a thing is legal. After all if the possessor of a power of attorney abuses the power or if the giver of the power feels that it no longer wants, can he/she be prohibited from retracting the power?
Note: The Peer contracts say that the (illegal) power of attorney may be given to third parties (called successors and assignees) by Peer. But the songwriter never had the opportunity to ask the notarizing lawyer what that meant, or if such a thing is legal.On the Venegas vs. Peer case Peer's lawyer said the heirs did not have right to information. It is also reported that in the Cuba vs. Peer case in London, Peer's inside lawyer (Peter Jaegerman) testified that Peer did not reply to the heir songwriters:Reassignment request from heirs See: The Big Peer Lie
"On Monday, Peer's vice-president of legal affairs Peter Jaegerman took the stand and acknowledged the company had yet to respond to letters sent by relatives of the Cuban composers searching for statements relating to the royalties."
Note: during 1997 the heirs of Guillermo Venegas attempted in various ways to get proof from Peer that shower how Peer got the alleged ownership of about 30 songs. Peer only produced a blanket contract that did not name any song.Later on if heirs asked for a copy of the signed document, Peer would say to the heirs that they should assign the songs to Peer so as to collect undelivered royalties (the amount being not specified - later it turned out to be almost nothing, as the songs, as badly managed by Peer made no money. If the heirs refused to sing new assignment contracts, Peer would then ignore the heirs and continue to act as owners of the songs.
Peer called the process "Renewal assignments". When asked what "renewal" meant the reply was that only Peer's lawyer (Peter Jaegerman) could answer that and no answer was given.
Peer said the new assignment documents were needed by Peer to update their records (a lie of course). and should be signd in a hurry. They offered to pay $3.00 for getting the rights to about 30 Guillermo Venegas songs from the songwriter's heirs. The new assignments required that the documents be notarized.
Among the songs listed for assigning to Peer was "Borracho sentimental" , a song that Peer actually stole from another (unknown) songwriter. So, if the heirs had signed the documents they were thus participating in the theft (a criminal offense) of a stolen non Guillermo Venegas song by assigning rights to Peer.
Why did Peer do this: Because the documents they had had were patently illegal and anyway Peer had massively breached them. With new assignments everything would be made legal (this time around notarized), without the heirs suspecting what had happened, of course.
Note: In the Venegas vs. Peer lawsuit, the heirs of Guillermo Venegas presented proof that Peer asked fo the assignment of all Peer claimed songs. The heirs refused to assign any song to Peer, but Peer continued to act as if they owned the songs.
See: The Big Peer Lie
Footnote: Dame la mano paloma and Luis Morales Ramos
1. From LAMCO motion of 4-13-05 in case 01cv-1142 at Puerto Rico Federal Districy Court:3. Last week, the Peer publishers submitted some purported assignments from Luis Morales Ramos, the author of “Dame La Mano Paloma”. (See Exhibit 1). In summary, the assignment stated that all musical works penned from April 1, 1965 to June 30, 1967 would become property of Peer International Corporation of Puerto Rico. The assignment was allegedly executed on April 1, 1965 and by its terms ended in approximately two (2) years later. Subsequently, on May 26, 1972, five years after the alleged agreement ceased to exist, either Peer or Southern Music Publishing Co. obtained a Certificate of Registration for “Dame La Mano Paloma”. (See Exhibit 2). 4. Peer now claims, without any supporting evidence whatsoever, that “Dame La Mano Paloma” was created sometime between April 1, 965 to June 30, 1967.2. Peer's reply to the above motion Peer says:"Simply as an example, the Publishers annex their own letter from the author dated January 1, 1966 (in Spanish with its certified English Translation) which specifically identifies the work "Dame La Mano Paloma" as one for which Peer should collect royalties.".3. But the document presented in the Peer motion has several flaws and raises some questions:a. It is not signed. Not even of the Peer employee who allegedly received it.
b. It does not assign any rights to songs.
c. It is addressed to A. Fonfrias, not Peer. While Fonfrias was an employee of Peer, he could conceivably collect royalties for a fellow composer as a favor in his personal time.
d. It requests the collection of royalties for specific record, not future records.
e. The writer of the document does not certify that it is the songwriter of 9 songs listed.
f. The writer does not certify that the four claimed songs have not been assigned to anyone else.
g. It is dated January 1. This date is one of the busiest for jibaro music singers like Luis Morales, who was the most famous and looked after jibaro music singers. Why would he pick such a date to type a business letter.
h. If Peer received such a letter then they should have formalized the assignment of the four songs claimed by the writer so that both Peer and the songwriter were both protected. After all, without a formal assignment how can a songwriter sue for contract violation if the song is not published or promoted or the royalties not collected or are inadequate?
i. Did Peer promote the four songs that the writer claimed to own?
j. Did Peer Copyright register all the songs and if not, why not? if "Dame la mano paloma", a song not claimed by Luis Morales in the letter was registered as if it had been claimed by Luis Flor Morales (Ramito)?
k. The letter seems to have been written by two persons at different times. One part is in lower case and another part in upper case. Strange indeed.
l. Only four songs are referred as "belong to me". "Dame la mano paloma" is not one of them. 9 songs are not claimed to "belong to me" but are are said to be in records where the alleged writer of the letter, Luis Morales Ramos, participated as a performer. Perhaps Luis Morales Ramos wanted the singer's and not the songwriter royalties collected, if he wrote the letter.
n. If this is what Peer has as evidence of assignment, it is another case of confusion in song assignments by an author.