A Fairytale Village becomes a Legal Nightmare

village

Elamir Amar Saleiman narrated the book “A fairytale village” for Minerva Consultancy. A recording was sold together with the book and there was a dispute regarding Saleiman’s compensation.

Saleiman sued Mr Asaf Golani and Minerva Consultancy claimed moral rights under Section 4a of the Performers and Producer’s act, and claimed that his economic and moral rights in the recordings were trampled on. Suleiman sued under Employment Law, Contract Law and Copyright Law.

The case was originally brought to the Nazareth District Court. Suleiman alleged that he was the sole owner of the recordings, that the defendant had distributed them without his consent and without acknowledging that it was his voice narrating in contravention of the “Presenters and Performers Act 1984.

Suleiman sued for a permanent injunction, for 200,000 Shekels compensation for infringing his commercial and moral rights under Section 56 of the Copyright Law 2007. The Nazareth District Court accepted the defendants request to transfer the case to the Jerusalem Labour Court under Section 79b of the Courts Act which applies to the Labour Courts under section 39 of the Labour Court Act.

In December 2012, Mr Asaf Golani and the Minerva group undertook to produce and market “A fairytale village” which is an anthology of Arab folktales collected in the Galilee. The project was undertaken for the Jewish Arab Peace Center. The project required producing audio recordings to be sold with the book.

The contractual relationship between the Jewish Arab Peace Center and Minerva Consultancy established that copyright was retained by the Jewish Arab Peace Center. Both parties concede that Suleiman was employed by Minerca from December 2003 to November 2005, and the employment contract establishes that:

The employee will work in all fields of endeavor by Minerca, including translation, editing, proof-reading, word processing, abridging, explaining and expounding, consultancy and training, education, producing educational materials and office work in accordance with directions to be received.

The contract established different hourly rates for different types of work. Both sides concede that the worker was obliged to translate and teach, both in community centers and to clients at their homes.

During 2005, Minerva Consultancies hired a recording studio and arranged for Suleiman to record songs and stories from the book. The defendant informed the Peace Center that the book would be sold with 54 pieces totaling 220 minutes of recording on 3 CDs.

In Feb 2006, the plaintiff and his brother Mr Lua Amar sued Mionerva Consultancy for redundancy payments, compensation in lieu of advanced notice, holidays and social benefits, totaling 9008 Shekels. The evidence filed included salary slips. That case was withdrawn following attempts at mediation between the parties.

In October 2010 a separate case was filed, wherein the present defendant Minerva sued Saleiman claiming that the education material sold as Palestinian Arabic for Beginners was infringed by Suleiman distributing educational material under the titled “Land of Israel Arabic for Beginners”.  In that case, Minerva collected damages and obtained an injunction.

Judge Goldman of the Jerusalem Labour Court ruled that the book was a creative work and, since he read stories from the book that were recorded in the accompanying recording, the plaintiff was fairly considered a producer or performer of the creative work. Whether or not he was entitled to compensation under copyright law hinged on whether Suleiman was an employee of Minerva or a partner.

Judge Daniel Goldberg further ruled that the plaintiff had failed to establish that the project was different from his regular work for the defendant and that he was not taking any risk in the success of the project. As a result of this, Judge Goldman established that the relationship between the parties was an employer – employee relationship. Consequently, the Creator’s Rights and Moral Rights were owned by the employer. In such a relationship, there is no obligation to identify the narrator who has no moral rights in the work. Compensation to which Saleiman was entitled were purely monetary and any entitlement was under Employment Law only.

CASE: 31284-07-11 Suleiman vs. Minerva, before Judge Goldman, Jerusalem Labour court, 24 March 2014.

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