Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Copyright Police Want Belgian Truck Drivers To Have Licensed Cab Music

Another 'Only in Belgium' story....

The Belgian music royalty collecting agency SABAM has once again stepped up to enforce their strict copyright regime. After collecting money for fake artists and forgetting to pay out to real ones, they are now targeting truck drivers who listen to music in their cabs without an appropriate license.

This week SABAM made the headlines once again, this time claiming money from truck drivers who listen to music in their cabs. Since a truck’s cab is a place of work the drivers are obliged to pay royalty fees, they argue. Those are simply the rules according to the copyright police, but not everyone agrees.

“It’s utter nonsense,” said Maggie De Block, member of the Belgian Parliament in a response to the claim. “The truck drivers don’t need the radio so much for playing music, but for their safety. So it is illogical that they should pay for it.”

Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne is not backing the theory of the copyright police either. He said that listening to radio is essential for truckers and noted that above all, a truck’s cab is an intimate space.

Angered by the responses from these politicians, SABAM said that they have the right to claim money from anyone who listens to music while working. The copyright collectors refer to an agreement they have with Minister Van Quickenborne which allows them to charge anyone, anytime. Whether they are in an office or a truck cab makes no difference, they say.

The safety argument doesn’t impress SABAM either, as they claim truck drivers still profit from listening to ‘free’ music when the radio is on.

Although SABAM might be right while following the letter of the law, the above example and numerous others where small businesses or non-profits have been hunted down in the past do not help them to maintain a good public image. We also wonder if the artists are very happy with such a strict copyright regime.

But then again, someone has to pay for the luxurious furniture at the SABAM offices, and the generous salaries these copyright crusaders enjoy. Piggybacking on the creations of musicians is big business after all.

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