If music be the food of love, play on

Mr Gianakos was delighted to hear his love song playing on a major Cypriot radio station. He was also looking forward to receiving his 50% writer and 50% publisher shares from the music association collecting royalties on his behalf. Mr Gianakos was due to receive a 50% writer share into his own named account and a 50% publisher share paid into a separate business account.

On checking the payment made to him, it became apparent that the £12.08 received was for the writer share only. To add to the confusion, the payment appeared on the distribution statement as being for performances between 2005 and 2010, when in fact the song had only been written in 2010 and the broadcasting of it took place in 2011.

On contacting the association, Mr Gianakos was told that the payment made related to a performance of a club remix and that could be why he only received half of what he believed he was entitled to. He was also informed that the payment made to the association by the Cypriot society was listed as being for performances between 2005 and 2008, which didn’t match the statement or actual dates.

Mr Gianakos contacted the association again to inform them that the dates they held were incorrect. They responded to say they did not recover the full amount from Cyprus and that they would normally contact the society but due to the amount in dispute being of low value, they would apply a credit adjustment.

This would have resolved the complaint. However, Mr Gianakos then received further correspondence to say that as, according to the association’s records, he had not registered the work at the time of the performances and the performances were too old for them to ask the Cypriot society for royalties, it could not raise a dispute.

Frustrated with the inaccurate and conflicting information received, Mr Gianakos wrote to the association for a final time, detailing all of the particulars of his complaint once more. He also took the opportunity to question why the writer but not publisher share was paid if they believed their information was correct, when both were registered on the same day. The response reiterated that the client was not entitled to the publisher payment due to their records showing that he did not register the work at the time of the performances and that they had closed the case.

At this point, Mr Gianakos contacted Ombudsman Services. Mr Gianakos was able to provide a document confirming that he registered, in 2010, a 50% writer share in his name and a 50% publisher share in a company name.

The decision
One of two possible scenarios could explain what occurred. Either the payment was made incorrectly or the dates shown on the distribution statement were incorrect. Further investigation would be required by the Cypriot society to find out which scenario was correct.

The ombudsman concluded that further investigation would not benefit either party, particularly because the work required to investigate the case would be disproportionate to the sum in dispute.

Ombudsman Services found that the association handled the complaint badly. Their responses failed to provide a clear explanation of what had happened. Furthermore, it was decided that as the association had agreed to pay a credit adjustment, they should honour their commitment.

The association was required to send an apology letter to Mr Gianakos and provide the £12.08 credit they had agreed to for the publisher share, plus an additional goodwill credit of £40 to account for the shortfall in customer service.

Note
Ombudsman Services case studies are anonymous. We do not name the participating company and complainant names are fictional.