Collection Society To Libraries: No Story Time For Kids Unless You Pay To Read Aloud

from the are-there-no-limits? dept

If there's a common trait of the various rightsholders groups around the world, it is their sense of entitlement. If anyone does anything with a work under copyright, they feel they have a right to regulate it and be paid for it. A good example is the claim by the Authors Guild that owners of Kindles weren't allowed to use an experimental text-to-speech feature, since that would infringe on the entirely made up concept of "audio rights" -- and hence, presumably, require further payment.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Belgian rights group SABAM has already established itself as a copyright hardliner with its attempts to force ISPs and social networks to set up monitoring and filtering systems to combat copyright infringement. Its latest demand shows the same apparent indifference to the negative consequences of its action:

Twice a month, the library in [the Belgian town of] Dilbeek welcomes about 10 children to introduce them to the magical world of books. A representative of the library in question is quoted in the De Morgen report as saying there’s no budget to compensate people who read to the kids, relying instead on volunteers (bless them).

SABAM got in touch with the library to let them know that it thinks this is unacceptable, however, and that they should start coughing up cash for reading stories from copyrighted books out loud. The library rep calculates that it could cost them roughly 250 euros (which is about $328) per year to pay SABAM for the right to -- again -- READ BOOKS TO KIDS.
It's worth emphasizing that these are volunteers, so this is in no sense a professional "performance". It's just public-spirited people generously doing exactly what parents do when reading to their own children. Indeed, it's not hard to imagine SABAM trying to claim money for that too, one day.

Of course, if SABAM refuses to back down here, the likely outcome will be that many libraries throughout Belgium will cancel these reading sessions for children. As a result, fewer young people will be introduced to the world of reading, fewer of them will grow up to be readers, and writers will have fewer fans and less money. In other words, SABAM's attempt to extend its reach to new areas will harm not only children -- about whom it is obviously indifferent -- but also the very people it purports to serve.

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Reader Comments (rss)

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    weneedhelp (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:06am

    they should start coughing up cash for reading stories from copyrighted books out loud.

    Wont someone please think about the... oh wait... that wont work here. Lets just pull $328 out of our ass and maybe they will just pay up & shut up.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:08am

    Does that mean I have to pay SABAM to read their books aloud in my head from the paperback copy I bought from SABAM?

    I have a very loud mind, so surely any mind readers in the room could hear me reading aloud in my mind.

     

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      Andrew (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:22am

      Re:

      You're lucky they're not charging you a transmission fee too for getting the words from your eyes to your brain, and charging you additionally for the temporary copy of the work your mind makes as you read it.*

      Depressingly this would have felt like a silly, far-fetched story to me not that long ago. Now it just seems like the logical next step.

      * And don't even think about making any derivative works. Only people with photographic memories and no imagination may read books in the future.

       

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        Greg G (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:48am

        Re: Re:

        Those people with photographic memories will be infringing on the copyright by copying it to their minds.

        Guys dressed in black with bright pen-lights will be visiting.

         

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      DOlz (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 3:03pm

      Re:

      No, but if you move your lips watch out.

       

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    David (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:17am

    Is it a requirement...

    Is it a requirement, that to work for these collections societies that you have to be a soulless creature?

    Uh-oh! Which vampire book/TV show/movie did I just infringe on?

     

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    MPHinPgh (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:17am

    Average Joe to Collection Societies: F--k Off and Die.

     

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    Difster, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:20am

    What?

    GTFO.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:20am

    I think I found the problem. You are thinking long-term. We must remove that portion of your reasoning skills, not to mention a few others like common sense, before you can begin to think on the same level as these people.

    They don't care about how their actions effect the long term, as long as they get their hands on as much money now as they can. All the issues caused by their current policies will be the problems for the next guy, not them. This is similar to politics and is probably why both groups get along so well why not understanding the rest of the public.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:21am

    This is actually a good thing. The more these idiots tighten their grip, the quicker the people will snap and demand change. And I predict that change will be cruel for them.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:25am

      Re:

      I have been saying that here for a couple years. It is fun to be right ... and it sucks to be wrong, I still owe people a newspaper subscription.

       

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      Ignorance sucks, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:15am

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:21am

      I agree.
      I hope they get such a reckoning as to inspire works that are actually worth a damn.
      Come at me you soulless clowns.

       

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    Bill, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:43am

    Not recommended list

    So the Belgium libraries need to band together and all create lists of authors, publishers, etc. that support this idiocy and call it a Not Recommended list. They will prominently display this list in the libraries, they will prominently display this list on their websites, they will actively discourage anyone and everyone from reading, much less purchasing, these books. If an author or publisher wants off this list they can pony up a fee to be evaluated for removal, or they can lobby against the collection society.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:47am

      Re: Not recommended list

      +1 for the win! Good Job Sir!

       

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      Ninja (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:02am

      Re: Not recommended list

      Epic win. A few lists came up so mind regarding "idiotic overaggressive useless laws" and "Lamar Smith" was one of the names I'd put there.

       

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      DCX2, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 1:18pm

      Re: Not recommended list

      I suggest a fee of $328 per year.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 1:31pm

      Re: Not recommended list

      Can we call it the "People who hate your children" list?

       

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        That One Guy (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 7:53pm

        Re: Re: Not recommended list

        Normally I'd say calling it that would be overkill, but considering what's being pushed for here, that actually sounds about right.

         

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 3:16pm

      Re: Not recommended list

      I like the idea and where it is heading, the problem is it is a collection society doing this. As we have seen with GEMA, a large portion of their "members" don't want them meddling the way that they do. The problem is they have legal authority that trumps the artists.

      GEMA membership (IIRC) is all but mandatory.

      Not being familiar with the Belgium system, I can not make any conclusions if its just as stupid there.

      While I think its awesome to focus on the authors, publishers, et al. in this... there is a chance they have no choice either... and that is the truly sick side of this. A society to "benefit" them is actually actively hurting their business.

       

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      Marilyn, Mar 18th, 2012 @ 5:49pm

      Re: Not recommended list

      I think the not recommend list should be brought to American authors who are with publishers who don't allow their books to be available to libraries in e-book format.

       

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      Robin, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 7:24am

      Re: Not recommended list

      I agree....souch a great idea! Everything comes with a price tag...sad....

       

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    cryptozoologist (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:46am

    i believe the correct response...

    is to stop reading books that aren't in the public domain. that should make everyone happy.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 6:44pm

      Re: i believe the correct response...

      Oh you mean to stop reading books that still collect royalties for their authors and their publishers. I wonder how many books get purchased after a child hears them in a story time. I would venture to guess quite a few.

      SABAM is attacking the interests of authors and publishers.

       

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    Ninja (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:49am

    Who in Earth and Heavens endorse and support copyright, this copyright we got today, if not the copyright lawyers, the copyright holders and the politicians that get money from the lobby? (notice that by copyright holders we almost always don't refer to the creators themselves).

    The answer is a pretty straight no1.

    I took the liberty to include our clueless trolls in the "copyright holders" group.

     

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    Elaine Normandy (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:52am

    So what about parents reading to their children?

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:56am

    It shouldn't need saying

    Reading the comments so far, it seems that everyone here already knows this, but I'll say it for the benefit of anyone in the collections industry reading this.

    You are trying to force libraries to pay for the privilege of getting children interested in your books. Children who can just as easily turn on the TV for entertainment.

    This is a fairly impressive level of idiocy. Not the stupidest thing I've ever heard of, but it may be enough to get a nomination for a Darwin Award.

     

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      Ignorance sucks, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:20am

      Re: It shouldn't need saying

      Excellent...

      Oh and, inb4 someone sees your username and decides to sue for creative use of a classic game title.

       

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      David (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:45am

      Re: It shouldn't need saying

      They're not eligible. You have to be a life-form first...

       

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      That One Guy (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 7:21pm

      Re: It shouldn't need saying

      Only an honorable mention technically, as no one is dying from their actions, though I imagine if this story gets spread enough it might end up being effectively PR suicide, assuming the shakedown agency actually gets held accountable for once.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:06am

    Don't these idiots grasp that teaching children to read and enjoy books is creating future customers? Crap, SABAM should be _paying_ the libraries to do this.

     

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    kleuske, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:11am

    It seems silly, financially

    From a strictly financial POV this action seems downright silly if not stoopid. If the aim is to fetch as much cash as possible, you should PAY people to read your books to children. Shortsightedness seems to be the common theme as far as copyright-barons go.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re:

    Schools are government run or last I checked. I wonder what will happen when SABAM (most likely) goes after them next?

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:15am

    The irony? This type of thing is weakening the already low opinion that the public have of these people. Ultimately it will do damage to the fight on piracy and to the industry as a whole.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:23am

    i think the most important thing here is that there could be children that cannot read for themselves also not understand a lot of words when starting school.

    the other thing is, SABAM are ignoring the law suit being brought against them. this should help their case no end! (sarc)

     

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    Trails (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:24am

    Heavens to Betsy!

    God forbid we get kids interested in books!!! That would be horrible for authors.

    Besides who will buy all this crack I have if the kids are all busy reading?

     

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    DogBreath, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:25am

    Time to add SABAM to this list

    on how to deal with the situation:

    http://sendthemyourmoney.com/

    Let's send SABAM all the audio recordings of money being passed from on hand to the other, or if you prefer, mail a "smell" in a ziploc bag to them, but not one of food.

     

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    ookboo, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:49am

    abolish copyright

    That's all.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:58am

    Soon....

    There will be a world in which authors, musicians, actors/actresses will beg for someone to watch them, read their books, sing their songs...because they ran off all their customers......

    And they will see those that knew how to evolve....and have no one to blame but themselves.

    It's time for Libraries to reject those that restrict. It's time for shops to give those that could not evolve the boot.

    Your product is no longer welcome here, because you can't stop suing/cursing/forcing the customer.

     

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    Squig (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 12:13pm

    In Germany Pre-schools (well, we call them Kindergärten, but the translation into English mixed up the meaning of them and what we call Vorschule) are supposed to pay money when making copies of songs to distribute to the kids and parents to sing (even songs that have been in the public domain, mind you, since there is a copyright on a new 'version' of writing them down...)

     

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    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 12:25pm

    It all makes sense!

    Of course it should become expensive to read to kids! If the kids get interested in books, they might start reading themselves. If they read for themselves, they might pick up some of that pesky learnin'. If they learn, heaven forbid, they might actually figure out that SABAM is unecessary. We can't be having that, now can we? $328.00 please.

     

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      Al Bert (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 12:39pm

      Re: It all makes sense!

      Kids should understand that all knowledge is owned permanently by someone else and that renting the luxury of cognition should be expected to be expensive. How else will kids understand why their textbooks cost $300 for a glue-bound hardcover? Why, they might not even understand why the ebook for the same edition costs the same amount or more. It's obvious!

      If they don't want to drink from the fountain of knowledge, they should go back to lapping at the brackish runoff of broadcast media.

       

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    Ron, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 1:42pm

    So, if my lips move when I read alone ...

    ... do I owe them too?

     

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    Rekrul, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 2:37pm

    Rather than pay SABAM, the libraries should get together and make a TV commercial with all the children asking "Why did you take our story time away?" Then air it with the contact info for SABAM.

    See how long they hold their position in the face of a huge negative PR campaign.

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 7:29pm

      Re:

      Awesome idea, though it would probably have to be either a minor station, or even better put up online, as I really doubt a major tv station would even mention this story in passing.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 7:29am

      Response to: Rekrul on Mar 13th, 2012 @ 2:37pm

      Best idea here yet. Now to find funding for it....

       

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    Selene, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 3:39pm

    I'm hoping to get my first children's book published some day soon but having read a lot about the different organizations who claim that they want to protect my work and my intellectual property, I'm starting to get the very distinct feeling that I don't want to be anywhere near them. I do want to earn money from my writing but this is just ridiculous...

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Mar 17th, 2012 @ 1:50am

      Re:

      I /think/ the best bet would be to put it under a CC license, or basically put it straight into the public domain, create a site based upon the book(s), and then have the ability for people to donate to you.

      Even if only 1 in a hundred people do so, it'll probably still come out better in the end for you.

      Sadly ebook readers aren't quite common enough for kids to have them, otherwise I'd suggest putting it out as an ebook via one of the indie publishers.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 5:14pm

    Calling Sasha Grey...

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 6:14pm

    I'd thought I'd heard it all from the copyright extremists but I was wrong.

    What, in the name of heaven, are they thinking? (Rhetorical question, the answers are largely greed and a level of stupidity exceeding that of cattle and sheep.)

    Evil doesn't explain it. Evil is usually smarter than that. Evil wants to deflect blame not take it.

    My only advice to the libraries in Belgium is to tell SABAM to stick it where the sun don't shine and read to the kids anyway. And to be loud about it. Then wait of them to sue. I'm sure there'd be two or three top level human rights, copyright and other specialty lawyers around who'd work pro bono for the libraries.

    This action has shown precisely why copyright law and precedents need to be scrapped and started over. It no longer serves the purpose that it was intended to serve. It's now a haven for scoundrels, liars, frauds, pirates and cold hearted monsters. It certainly doesn't help artists to get paid for their work or anyone or anything else.

    I've been sympathetic to the concept of copyright (and patents).

    UNTIL NOW

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 9:10am

      Re:

      Well I think the parents and citizens know how to make this happen.
      Won't someone think of the children?!
      This society wants our children to be illiterate.
      We need to undo the law that lets them exist.

      All it takes is getting parents overwrought over the "possibilities" and the Government will be forced to make a change.

      Plus the delicious irony of this society being hung by its ilks own battle cry.

       

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    Canvasback, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:35pm

    book fees

    No biggie. Here in the U.S. we already have 20% functional illiteracy. In a decade or so reading to children will just be another quaint memory.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 12:19am

    A $328 license to read books aloud to children in a library?
    I don't know what thought that was a good idea, but it wasn't human.
    Someone should check the SABAM staffers to make sure their blood isn't green. We may be dealing with pod people here.

     

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    David Sanger (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 1:05am

    There's probably a market opportunity then for non-SABAM books free from any such restrictions.

     

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    aread, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 12:52pm

    Insider?

    The only way to reasonably explain much of what SABAM does is someone trying to break them from the inside. There must be someone working there who wants the organization to fail and is doing their best to push the people of Belgium to the breaking point.

    Of course, looking at how long it took Belgium to put a working government together, it my take some time for them to get around to taking care of SABAM.

     

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    Linda, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 10:24am

    How insane. Belgiums's librarians need to show a unified front and tell SABAM to shove this idea where the sun doesn't shine. Reading to children is NOT a copyright infringement.

     

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    Renee, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 12:30pm

    The libraries already paid to read aloud... it's called BUYING the BOOK.

    Sheesh.

     

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    DRGEE, Mar 18th, 2012 @ 8:35pm

    SABAM

    I recall and just double checked that Belgium is a geographically small country, with a correspondingly small population, unless Belgium is producing authors at a much higher rate per capita than other countries, then the following may be a solution: The author or copyright holder reads the books to the children! WOW! yes, they leave their office at Rue d'Arlon, and visit the libraries (and the schools) to read their stories aloud to the children every week or fortnight. This allows the libraries to not have to find volunteers, to not have to pay copyright fees because surely, if you create the work and you are reading it aloud, then you are not breaking copyright. Additionally - and here's a thought, the authors may find inspiration for more stories-target them for their audiences, even sell some books and sign them. Imagine the prestige, imagine the publicity, imagine that I can claim this concept as copyright

     

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    Robin, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 7:29am

    Reading to my Grandchild is gonna cost me?

    I wonder how much its going to cost me to read to my Grandchild? Maybe I will just make something up.

     

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