German Chancellor MusiConsult claims that reprinting José Afonso’s work is illegal, but the “singer-author” family guarantees them the rights and the responsible record company disputes that the accusation has no legal basis.
The editor, Nuno Saraeva, of Lusa, told Lusitanian Music, who was chosen by the musician’s family to re-release the record work.
“The family owns the rights to these works, ensuring that they are processed, edited and published,” Pedro Afonso, the musician’s son, told Lusa.
An accusation of illegality, voiced in a statement Monday by MusiConsult, a German music consulting and management company, headed by Frank Heising, on behalf of “representatives of the company that owns the Movieplay catalog,” was never named.
The advisor claims that José Afonso’s recordings are licensed to Movieplay and Arte Orfeu and that no license has been granted, and no “sub-licensing contract” has been signed so that Lusétanian Music for Nuno Saraiva can republish José Afonso’s work, to the Mais5 record company.
The counselor builds illegality on a contract José Afonso’s widow signed with Movieplay in the 1990s.
Speaking to Lusa, Nuno Saraiva recalled that “Movieplay went bankrupt and contracts were terminated. Nothing in effect” and that Frank Heising, a Movieplay collaborator in the 1990s, “has no legal basis to complain about anything.”
“When a record company goes bankrupt, they cannot trade property without the artists’ consent. If anything were to be sold, it would be illegal. Frank Hessing does not currently identify even this current false owner for anything.” […] Nuno Saraeva stressed that the family has all rights and some others: it has copyright, it has moral right and it has phonograph rights.
Last April, Jose Afonso’s family (1929-1987) announced that they had decided, “in partnership with the publisher Lusitanian Music, to proceed with editing the composer’s eleven albums, which were originally edited between 1968 and 1981, but had not been available for several years.” , assuming the cultural significance of making this music available to the world.”
“Cantares do Andarilho” and “Contos Velhos Rumos Novos” are currently being re-released in various formats, including on digital platforms, and “Bring Another Friend Too” is scheduled for release this month. The editorial plan will extend until 2022.
In a statement, the consultant confirmed that it was “making efforts to prevent the continuation of the material and moral damages that resulted from this” and that the rights holder also intended to “make public editions available in different quality formats.”
Nuno Saraiva explained to Lusa News Agency that Frank Heising had contacted him in April, when the intention to re-release the records was announced.
“I replied that the family had the copyright and the rights to the phonograph, so we are waiting for any legal action that apparently has not come or has not yet come. Apart from these noises which are very disturbing,” he said.
Regarding the possibility of the said company also editing José Afonso’s music, Nuno Saraiva replies: “If this happens, it is a precautionary measure taken by the family that will obviously prevent this from happening.”
“We are quietly waiting for any legal action that could eventually be taken,” said Pedro Afonso, on behalf of Jose Afonso’s family.
In 1968, José Afonso released his debut album by the publisher Orfeu, by Arnaldo Trindade, under the title “Cantares do Andarilho”. Until 1981, he edited a series of albums that became landmarks in Portuguese music, such as “Cantigas do Maio” (1971) or “Venham Mais Cinco” (1973) and “Coro dos Tribunais” (1974).
Orfeu had an 11-disc reissue, between 2012 and 2013, to mark the 25th anniversary of the composer’s death, after they had been digitally restored and reworked.
In September 2020, the Directorate General of Cultural Heritage (DGPC) opened the process of classifying the vocal work of musician José Afonso, arguing that it represents “the cultural value of meaning for the nation”.
The decision came after Parliament approved a PCP bill that recommended the government classify Jose Afonso’s work as serving the national interest, with the aim of reissuing and publishing it.
In April 2020, the José Afonso Association (AJA) also collected more than 11,000 signatures in a public petition appealing the same decision.
At the time, in a note issued to Lusa, Jose Afonso’s family expressed support for the classification of the work and indicated that it “has been cooperating directly with the Ministry of Culture, since 2018,” so that the process can be developed.
Still in 2019, the Minister of Culture, Graça Fonseca, stated publicly that it was not due to a lack of will that the classification process had not started earlier, but because there was no access to the “Masters” and content of Jose Afonso’s original recordings.
When the petition for protection was launched, AJA President Francisco Vanhais explained that it was a “legal issue,” because Movieplay was “in bankruptcy” and “the whereabouts of the ‘masters’ of songs recorded by Zeca Afonso,” putting their re-release at risk.
Lusa has requested more detailed information from Frank Hessing and is awaiting a response.
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