Promoters And PRS Argue About Jesus

A legal action over staging “Jesus Christ Superstar” without permission appears headed to an almighty row between some Lithuania-based show producers and the local PRS.

It started when Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group sought a court order preventing Baltic promoter Makroconcerts and the producers of an orchestral version of JCS from staging the production.

RUG says it was asked permission for the show to be staged in The Baltics and neighbouring countries, but declined after taking advice from LATGA, the Lithuanian equivalent of PRS.

LATGA’s Marius Kuzminas says the collection agency didn’t exactly warn RUG off working with Makroconcerts chief Giedrius Klimasauskas or any of the parties behind the show, but it did say it had “a history of difficulty” when it came to collecting royalties from these companies.

He said the main problem with collecting revenues in Lithuania is the number of companies, often registered as not-for-profit organisations, which are set up for one show.

“When the show is over, there is no money left in the company to pay the royalties,” he explained. “Last year we had to bring 300 court cases over unpaid invoices and that is more than any of our European contemporaries. In Lithuanian business culture it’s common practice not to pay invoices.”

Kilismauskas and his lawyer Laura Stankeviÿiÿtÿ say Makroconcerts abided by the court decision forbidding the JSC shows, and blamed show producer Centrine Kurybos Studija for the fact the correct licenses hadn’t been granted. Kilismauskas says he believed the show producer had obtained permission to stage the shows.

Centrine Kurybos Studija is believed to be appealing the Tallinn court ruling that RUG won in May 2010.

As for juggling companies, Stankeviÿiÿtÿ says the original company behind the Makroconcerts banner was a private limited one called Baltijos Reklamos Projektai.

She said she can’t comment on LATGA’s claim the company still owes a euro 20,000 invoice for PRS because “some years ago” it was sold to other shareholders.

Since then the company behind Makroconcerts has been a non-profit firm called Kulturos Vadybos Projektai. Stankeviÿiÿtÿ says the change was because of the government’s tax policy relating to concerts.

Not-for-profit companies don’t have to pay 20 percent VAT on box-office takings.

She also admitted the company’s relationship with LATGA is “a bit complicated at the moment” but said that’s largely because certain LATGA actions conflict with Lithuanian copyright laws.

She said Kilismauskas’ company is unquestionably LATGA’s largest payer of royalties for live events in Lithuania.

“Last year LATGA earned nearly euro 90,000 from the company and still it’s not satisfied,” she said.