Royalty Collection Agency SABAM Sued By Belgian Government Over 'Piracy License' Plans

from the getting-a-clue dept

Back in May, we wrote about how the Belgian music royalty collection agency SABAM was taking ISPs there to court over its demand for 3.4% of Internet subscriber fees as "compensation" for online piracy in Belgium. In yet another slapdown for SABAM -- it had previously failed in its attempt to turn ISPs into copyright cops -- the Belgian regulator says SABAM's plan falls foul of the EU's e-commerce directive, as IT World reports:

the Belgian government's FPS Economy (Federal Public Service Economy) agency, which has regulatory power, believes that Sabam is wrongly asking providers for compensation, said Chantal De Pauw, an agency spokeswoman.

While the FPS opposes any kind of illegal downloading, Sabam's solution penalizes Internet users and this is against the E.U.'s e-commerce directive, according to the authority. Providing Internet access is not the same as publishing protected works, the FPS said in a news release, adding that there are other ways to fight illegal downloads than posing levies on ISPs.
Even more dramatically, FPS is taking legal action against SABAM to stop it proceeding with its own lawsuit:
The FPS has ordered Sabam to stop its lawsuit, but the association has argued that they are operating within the bounds of the law, said De Pauw. FPS has therefore decided to sue Sabam in October to force it to stop its legal procedures against the ISPs, De Pauw said. If FPS wins the suit, Sabam faces penalties of up to €100,000 (US$137,600) per day if it continues its quest, she added.
SABAM has always been frustratingly out-of-touch with reality in its demands, but now that it is being sued by its own government, perhaps it will finally take the hint and drop its ridiculous and unjustified scheme.

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Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Nov 15th, 2013 @ 12:22am

    This whole concept of agencies collecting all kind of ridiculous fees on the assumption that "it knows how to distribute it fairly" seems laughable to me.

    Even if they'd be trustful (don't laugh!) distribution must go through a bunch of sketchy speculations on what owned to whom.

    Let the artists monetize themselves what they can, and leave alone what they can't. My guess is they would be better off anyway.

    No trumped up levies on everything remotely connected to transmitting art, thank you..

     

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  2.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 15th, 2013 @ 12:59am

    Here's an idea:

    If the government itself is having to sue the group to stop them from doing something, then it's pretty obvious they've gone rogue, and in that case, dissolve the group, file any charges that are needed, and replace them with a saner, more consumer/creator friendly group, with strict rules in place to keep them from repeating the same mistakes.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2013 @ 1:21am

    Fun part: BE gov has stakes in Belgacom, which is getting sued by SABAM. Although SABAM is clearly overreaching, I'm guessing it's about the money for the BE gov too...

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2013 @ 2:21am

    Give em hell Belgian

    LOL More failed extortion attempts.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2013 @ 2:34am

    FPS said in a news release, adding that there are other ways to fight illegal downloads than posing levies on ISPs.

    How do such levies help to fight illegal downloads unless they are raised to such an extent that they force people off the Internet. Doing so would also destroy the ISPs business. I suppose they could be used to fund lawsuits, which to be effective would have to tie up the courts with millions of lawsuits, so that downloaders realise that a lawsuit is inevitable, rather than just a low chance lottery event it is at the moment.

     

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  6.  
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    PaulT (profile), Nov 15th, 2013 @ 2:42am

    Re:

    "How do such levies help to fight illegal downloads"

    My impression has always been that they won't - but that's probably not the point. In fact, any blanket tax on the assumption you're a pirate will in fact encourage people to do it even more - how can it be immoral to pirate if you're being charged for doing so whether or not you've done it? Might as well download a few albums, get your money's worth...

    No, this is really about creating revenue for the major labels who can't compete in the modern world. No indie label is going to see a penny, the money will just be funnelled to the major corporations.

     

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  7.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 15th, 2013 @ 4:04am

    Re:

    It's not, the entire purpose of such levies/taxes on ISP's is to create another source of profit(pure profit at that, the extortion/collection agency wouldn't have to do anything other than receive the money each month).

    Also, while they're pretending it's supposed to be to fight piracy and help the artists, the odds of a single cent actually making it to an artist is non-existent, given such agencies seem to have a wicked time actually paying the artists even with the money specifically collected for them.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2013 @ 5:30am

    Re:

    This whole concept of agencies collecting all kind of ridiculous fees on the assumption that "you are a pirate" seems criminal to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2013 @ 5:35am

    Re:

    Plot twist: Belgian government wants to do what is best for its people, stands against corporate extortion demands. Based upon a real story, this blockbuster will be in theaters this coming spring.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2013 @ 5:43am

    a) all the entertainment industries and the collection agencies aren't bothered about being 'in touch'. they are only interested in getting as much money of people as possible and living in the pre-internet days! it's a shame that there aren't more governments doing this. they are all keen to hit the people but never even consider that there is the slightest thing being done by these 'agencies' that is illegal! that's the trouble when people of power can be bribed to do illegal things with no recourse and no openness!

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2013 @ 6:25am

    Hmm, how would that work in a retail store.

    Cashier: Your bill is $100, plus $6 sales tax, plus $3.40 theft tax.

    Me: Theft tax?

    Cashier: You and other customers must be thieves, we only pay our supplies for the stuff in our stores after it's sold. So the theft tax goes directly to our suppliers to pay for shop lifted goods.

    Me: How about I charge you an expiration tax for all that milk I bought last week that expired before I could drink it?

     

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  12.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Nov 15th, 2013 @ 6:38am

    Greedy asshats

    Unfortunately, greedy asshats are ALWAYS going to be greedy asshats, government (or other) acts not withstanding.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Nov 15th, 2013 @ 7:44am

    Perhaps the FPS will also sue to overturn the private copying levy AKA the "CD piracy tax".

     

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  14.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 15th, 2013 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re:

    It should be criminal. Personally, I go out of my way to avoid giving money to companies that I disagree with. Being forced to pay them (particularly when I don't use their products) really, really pisses me off. It's theft, pure and simple.

     

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  15.  
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    Technoid, Nov 15th, 2013 @ 10:49am

    Hmm from the wikipedia article on sabam, sabam is a private org that is just trolling for money

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2013 @ 12:59pm

    Re:

    ROFL! You win this week.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 8:37am

    Re:

    They don't. In fact, they might even do the opposite. Since I've already paid the copyright tax on the media (be it film, game or music), why would I then pay for it again when I can just download it for free from TPB?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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