Truck Drivers Told They Need To Pay A Licensing Fee To Listen To Music While Driving

from the make-it-stop dept

Over the last few years, we’ve noted that various collection societies around the globe have become both more aggressive and more ridiculous in trying to get people to pay licensing fees for listening to music. Among the crazy stories that have popped up are cases of collection societies demanding cash from a woman who played music for her horses in a stable, a police station told to pay up because some police officers had a radio on and the public entering the station could hear it, hotels being told they need to pay an extra performance license because guests listen to radios in their rooms and, of course, the claim that ringtones (even legally licensed ringtones) require another license as a public performance. In some cases, these societies apparently hire people to just call up businesses and if they hear music in the background, they demand payment.

Every time we post this kind of thing, people joke that it won’t be long before they want to charge people a separate license for listening to music in your car with the windows rolled down. We haven’t quite reached that point yet, but the Belgian collection society SABAM, who was recently caught accepting payments for made up bands, is now claiming that truck drivers listening to the radio need to pay a performance fee as well, since the cabs of their trucks are technically their “workplace.”

This seems pretty extreme, even by traditionally insane collection society standards. Most of them admit that they only seek to collect fees in cases where the public might hear the music. Going after truck cabs seems beyond ridiculous — and thankfully some in the Belgian Parliament seem to agree, with one MP saying, “it’s utter nonsense.” Still, SABAM seems to be standing by their right to collect in such cases, perhaps not realizing what an incredible laughingstock this makes them, and how it just makes people respect copyright less and less when such stories get out.

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Companies: sabam

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Comments on “Truck Drivers Told They Need To Pay A Licensing Fee To Listen To Music While Driving”

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coco Was Screwed says:

Re: Re: Listening

Thats it, you’re brilliant!

If the radio station plays it backwards, and someone invents a device that reverses the signal, no one would need to license anything…

I’ll call it Redre (reverse -dereverse) And I will single handedly bankrupt the entire system…mwaaahhhaaaa

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:


Double dipping as well as bass ackwards logic makes SABAM seem rather desperate and / or ignorant. Maybe they are trying to prove odd economic losses from “piracy” by using this double dipping method? These truckers not paying for licenses and it is costing their economy 1.543 trillion euros!

It would be nice if the truckers as a whole just told SABAM to go suck on an exhaust pipe.

Matt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Derp

Still a public performance. That it comes from the radio doesn’t matter.

Actually, that it comes from the radio should (but does not) immunize. The radio station has already paid to publicly perform the music. The mechanism for doing so is to translate the music into FM (creating a licensed, legal derivative work) and broadcast it. The truck driver then takes this derivative work, translates it (creating a new, licensed, legal derivative work) and publishes it. Either the original license to publish (to the radio station,) or the truck driver’s license to himself to publish his derivative work should govern, _NOT_ the license of the original music publisher. But for whatever reason, that is not the way the law is implemented (notwithstanding what it says).

ComputerAddict (profile) says:

Re: Re: Derp

” He has his laptop blasting his legally bought CDs/MP3s. Why would he have to pay up?”

By their logic (not mine) he is more liable than people that listen to the radio. At least the radio stations already paid for the public performance once, CD’s that have been bought for personal use have not paid the fees for public performances.

It kinda sickens (but doesn’t surprise) me that they want radio stations to pay for public performance and then have the person actually listening to that public performance to re-pay again. Since when has “going dutch” become popular again.

mike allen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Derp

you are correct as far as the radio station is concerned it has paid to broadcast this music. I fail to see how a lonely trucker IE he is the only person in the cab can possibly be classed as “public”. I Therefore think this is the forerunner of having to pay a separate licence to listen to the radio at home or our private cars the word is stupid and SABAM can stick it.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Derp

In any normal world where humans are allowed to be humans, demands like the original from SABAM would never be made to begin with. But where greed is allowed to rule, we get these crazy societies where they think everyone owes them for nothing.
Your brother just as much so as the rest of the truckers shouldn’t have to pay anything. It was already paid for. My post was mainly intended to deride SABAM for being stupid. I am sorry if I did not make that clear enough. I believe that Computer Addict above already addressed it though, by their logic your brother is probably more liable than the other truckers. Its dumb.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Derp

I don’t know about Japan, but in the UK you only need to pay the license fee if you use the TV for watching broadcasts.

If you use your TV solely for watching DVDs or playing video games (for example), you don’t need to pay. If you don’t have an antenna, cable or satellite system, you don’t pay.

Huph (user link) says:

This is beyond ludicrous. Does this mean a pizza delivery wo/man should pay a separate license when listening and driving while on the clock?

What if the trucker owns his rig outright? Does that make a difference?

Work place?

So children listening to their iPod while mowing their neighbors’ yards? License!

Whistle while you work? Not on my watch!

Sorry, Mr. Janitor, the rhythm of your sweeping, which is derivative of James Brown, is not licensed for this workplace. We will find you. We will fine you.

Hey guitar salesman, that song YOU wrote–but registered with our collection agency–is not licensed for you to play in the workplace in order to display the shredding-ness of your new stock of axes.

Also, guitar repair-tech, testing out your adjustments by playing “Hotel California”? You are not licensed for that.

In all seriousness, what if a person works from home? Say an illustrator. Are they only allowed to play their purchased music while NOT at the drawing board?

Jimr (profile) says:


I hope the collection society does get all crazy.
Hit ever access point one could hear music at and charge a fee. This would be the best ever!

pizza delivery in HIS car p- PAYS!

Children listening to their iPod while mowing their neighbors for cash – PAYS!

Whistle while you work – PAYS!

Teacher marking assignment at home with the Radio on – PAYS!

Music store – hell yeah PAYS and pays double if a customer tries out an instrument and plays a registered tune.

The craziness of it all will make people mad enough to actually DO something about it. Or everyone will quit listening to their music and demand a FREE source that does not involve such finical entanglements.

In the short run it will suck. They will make money. In the long run society will be better as their business model will drive themselves out of business and a new Free society will emerge.

Overcast (profile) says:

Who do they claim to represent and how would you know?

I can’t find a list on their web page..

So is this ‘license’ just a ‘general’ – listen to music at work license?

If it is – then many, many artists will have a clear case to sue this organization, after all – if they provide a license for music *they do not own* – that’s clearly copyright fraud.

I know if I was a musician and they – for one second – claimed to represent me, they’d be in court.

Jeremy says:

Truckers charged to listen to music...

What a bunch of crap. Let me explain something to whoever you are that is trying to charge these “performance fees”. When the cost of anything goes up, your available spending funds go down. Take a look around you right now. Everything that you can lay your eyes on, I will bet you came on a truck. The more we charge them, they more you and I pay for everything from toilet paper, food, electronics, vehicles, shall I go on? Everything is on a truck sooner or later. Trucking is one of the very best examples of cause and effect. Fuel goes up, so do prices. You charge drivers to listen to music, they demand more pay, trucking companies charge more to haul the freight, you pay more at the store. On a more simple note, what the hell is wrong with them listening to the radio anyway? Do you drive 10-14 every day of the week for weeks at a time?

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Another point overlooked - A little late?

Here is another thing I don’t think anyone has mentioned yet. They want to charge truckers for listening to radios while on the road.
Now, I don’t know the exact history of the 18 wheeler, but aren’t they about 50 to 60 years (probably more) late in demanding this? If they would have stood any chance of this working, it would have had to be when it was new. Just randomly demanding it after decades of normal isn’t going to fly.
Just a little late I think.

btr1701 (profile) says:


I suppose it’s only a small step from that to demanding payment from anyone who works at home, since that’s their workplace as well.

I really hope the Big Copy shills (TAM) don’t shy away from this thread like they do whenever the industry engages in blatant money-grubbing at absolutely absurd levels like this.

I’d dearly love to sit back and watch the spectacular display of tortured illogic as it comes into full bloom. However, I suspect they’ll do what they always do when stuff like this comes along… go mysteriously silent.

Anonymous Coward says:

If it’s on public airwaves it belongs to the public. It’s atrocious that the govt grants monopoly power on both content and distribution. Not only do they wrongfully deny artists their right to use those public airwaves to freely distribute content that they create, content that the artists maybe releasing under a permissible license, but they then deny me the right the copy and redistribute the content that is distributed on those public airwaves. Those public airwaves should belong to the PUBLIC, I have just as much a right to their use as anyone else and the government has no right denying me of my rights.

Q?r Tharkasd?ttir (profile) says:

SABAM's money is not the artist's money

Too bad I missed on this one. Once a dear friend of mine had some of his music (Ligeti-like stuff), which had been registered with… SABAM, played on the Belgian national radio network. A whole hour of it. Shortly after he left Europe for a long, long time. Well over a decade later, as he happened to pass through Brussels, he contacted SABAM to collect his money, but was told that they didn’t keep records older than 10 years. Mildly amusing.

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