Undistributable funds

It may happen that Buma/Stemra has collected fees for music use, but that essential usage and repertoire information is missing, so payments cannot be executed. What does Buma/Stemra  do to be able to distribute the collected money for unrecognized usage. But also, what does Buma/Stemra do with the money that cannot be paid to members as a result of unidentified use?

The distribution of funds

Buma/Stemra usually receives information about the use of musical works. For example, from a set list (an overview of played musical works) of a stage performance. Or a so-called cue sheets, with information about the use of music in audiovisual productions such as films or TV series. But also from fingerprinting, by which music use on radio and television is recognized.

The registration of music use usually consists of several musical works. There can be one or more rightholders for each musical work, who each have a right to their share.

Buma/Stemra pays out the money that it has collected to the composers, lyricists and music publishers who are members of Buma/Stemra or directly affiliated through collective management organisations abroad. The distribution of the money takes place based on various sources of information and on the basis of the distribution rules that apply there. Correct and complete usage information about the musical works that are used and copyright information about the rightholders in the musical works is thereby essential in order to be able to pay out the collected funds as accurately as possible. When important information is missing, Buma/Stemra cannot optimally distribute the money it has collected.

Missing information

Examples of missing use information are:

  1. It is known that music has been used, but not which music. This happens, for example, in a live performance, where it is known that a fee was collected, but it is not known which musical works were played. Or in the case of a film for which no cue sheet is available.
  1. The musical works used are known, but the copyright information is missing; there is indeed information specifying the musical works used, but it is not known who the rightholders are in respect to the musical work. Even if only one of the rightholders is known, the payment cannot yet be made.

What does Buma/Stemra do in order to be able to pay out anyway?

Buma/Stemra will try to trace the missing information in the following ways:

  1. In the case of music use in audiovisual productions, cue sheets are requested from foreign management organisations and producers.
  1. In the case of music use during (live) performances, Buma/Stemra requests set lists from, among others, booking offices, managers, artists and the organisers of live events.
  2. Buma/Stemra makes use of the fingerprint system to recognize music on radio and TV. The recognition percentage for this technology is very high, but a small percentage of the music is still not recognised. This can, for example, be music that has been created by a composer or lyricist who is not yet registered with Buma/Stemra, or for which no sound file has been delivered. Rightholders can make use of the Airplayclaim.nl website. Commercials, films and TV series in which the music used has not been identified are placed on this site. All rightholders who are members of Buma/Stemra have access to this site, and can listen to the unidentified music. The creator of this work can then claim the authorship.
  1. In the case of missing information about the rightholders of the musical works used, the Cis-Net international copyright database is consulted in order to find the copyright information of the work.
  1. As long as a rightholder for the musical work used is not known, the available money is forwarded to the sister society of which the authors whose details are known are members. If several rightholders are unknown, the funds remain in reserve until the copyright information is known.
  1. In addition, a variety of sources such as the Internet are consulted in order to gather additional information, or rightholders are contacted directly by the Member Service department.

Retrospective distribution

Where information of music usage for a correct payment is missing at the time of the distribution, the funds will be held in reserve. As soon as all the information relating to the musical work has been collected, the money will then be paid out. This takes place via a so-called post-distribution.

The money that is not paid out will be reserved for three years (the first time when it can be seen that data is missing or incorrect). If the musical work has not been claimed after three years, and we have not been able to identify the rightholders, the funds will be paid out retrospectively. This is carried out by Buma by adding these funds to the total available amount for the General Rights distribution in the following year, and by Stemra through a separate annual Stemra Undistributable payment.