Royalty Collection Agency SABAM Demands 3.4% 'Piracy License' From Belgian ISPs

from the this-still-looks-more-like-'rent'-than-a-'license' dept

It’s been a rather quiet few months for SABAM, the Belgian music royalty collection agency perhaps best known (around here, anyway) for its outlandish tactics, including attempting to charge truck drivers a licensing fee for listening to the radio in their cabs and collecting fees for completely fictional bands.

SABAM has thrust itself back into the news today with a return to form, having issued an announcement stating that it will be charging internet service providers for what is, in essence, a “piracy license:

The music group is claiming 3.4 percent of Internet subscriber fees as compensation for the rampant piracy that they enable through their networks.

SABAM pulls this 3.4% figure from an interesting source:

Sabam base their claim on a provision in the Copyright Act of 1994, which states that authors should be paid for any “public broadcast” of a song. According to Sabam, downloads and streams on the Internet are such public broadcasts, and they are therefore entitled to proper compensation. This 3.4 percent share is the same amount as the copyright fees on cable television.

Of course, this just means that all internet users, whether they infringe or not, will be charged extra for their internet service. Not only that, but a 3.4% flat rate assumes every transmission over the internet involves copyrighted material under SABAM’s control. And SABAM has made it clear that, although it is using this fee as some sort of “piracy license,” it is by no means saying that all users are now free to start (or resume) pirating content.

But even in the event they begin to receive payments, Sabam stresses that any compensation would by no means legalize piracy. The license fee is only meant to legitimize the ISPs part in transferring these unauthorized files.

Of course, this sort of action, if approved, would open the doors for nearly every other group of rights holders to pile on, turning the Belgian internet service into an incredibly expensive luxury, one that punishes the entirety of the population for that actions of a minority.

Even worse, it appears that SABAM is only pushing this “license” forward because it would rather just collect money than explore new options:

The decision of the music rights group to claim a share of subscriber fees comes after they were unable to reach a workable solution in direct talks with ISPs. The ISPs say they would rather focus on offering legal alternatives than quibble over piracy, a point also noted by Minister of Economy Vincent Van Quickenborne.

“The timing is unfortunate, just as Belgacom and others come to the market with a range of legal streaming services,” a spokesman for the Minister said, adding that his department would look into the legal issues.

This is just another example of the “take it out on the ISPs” thinking that tends to rise to the surface way too often with certain rights holders. Ultimately the costs will be passed on to the end user, which turns this from “us vs. the ISPs” into “us vs. our customers,” and is that any way to build a relationship?

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Comments on “Royalty Collection Agency SABAM Demands 3.4% 'Piracy License' From Belgian ISPs”

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Rikuo (profile) says:

I just love this new age thinking from the likes of SABAM. No longer do you have to have to promote your work or try and sell it in any way. Nope! All you have to do is create it, sign up with SABAM, and just get a cheque every so often.

One thing I’d like to know is how will they split the money? Will it just be the bigger names?
This tax will not go down well at all. In the UK and Ireland, we pay a TV licence fee, that funds the BBC and RTE respectively. We have to pay this fee even though we don’t watch those channels. (In my case, my TV is connected only to my console and my PC. No digital or over the air connection). If you’re so concerned about getting money in return for your content, then try and sell it to me. Persuade me to pay for it. You do not have the right to just out right take the money off me, even when I actively make the choice to not watch your content.

Musician says:

It’s pretty laughable that some people believe the spew that these royalty collection firms come out with, as if they’re actually doing good.

I just got screwed out of a nice gig because BMI is suing the club that we played at, even though we play no BMI music whatsoever. BMI simply lies and say that it was, and they have a legal staff.

I know someone who actually became a member of ASCAP, trying to be legit. Guess what? Even though she’s played on radio and have been for some time, ASCAP hasn’t paid her one penny. So she’s suing ASCAP.

So there we have the fun results of this #$%#%#$: put clubs out of business, and don’t pay any musicians except those at the top of the food chain.

Oh, and now some asses trying to charge truck drivers. Nice.

anonymous says:

‘Sabam would rather just collect money than explore new options’

please enlighten me as to the difference(s) between Sabam and any of the rest of the entertainment industries or their ‘collection agencies’. none of them are interested in ‘exploring new options’ or adapting in any way, shape or form, to the 21st century. none are interested in catering for fans. the only things on their agenders are getting as much money as possible by screwing their customers over, being in control, blaming as many ‘other sources’ as possible for their failing to modernise, whilst getting as many of the ‘other sources’ to pay for what they themselves should be doing, keeping their own house in order!

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

All of the ISPs should go dark to help motivate people to stop this. I think blackholing the entire country should raise some eyebrows and generate some public interest in these things.

People will just lament 3.4% its just 3.4%… and when as is the practice that just isn’t enough it will increase and increase and increase.

If the law wants to prop up these industries so badly, they can deal with the outcome. Your going to burden the ISPs and the people, well this is what is going to happen. ISPs are going to close and your people will be asking at election time who is going to bring the internet back to us with sane laws?

Its not a pretty or polite solution, but given how much is being shoved onto 3rd parties to support a small group of companies failing business models I see no reason for the 3rd parties to accept it. Take your ball and go home, let the people focus their anger where it needs to be.

Dan (profile) says:

3 of 4 % as a whole would screw them....

If the ISP decided to give 3 or 4 percent in total and divide that amongst anybody that came calling, that would show them.

2 rights holders each get 1/2 of the 3-4%
3 rights holders each get 1/3 of the 3-4%
4 rights holders each get 1/4 of the 3-4%

…and so on. I know… You’re all saying they shouldn’t get anything, but think about it for a second… The current beneficiaries would immediately sue any newcomer for their alleged share of this pot, instead of suing the ISP for not paying. It instantly turns it into the rights holder’s legal problem, and to the ISP it’s just a budgetable cost of doing business. They would pass it on to us of course, but it would never get any bigger as a percentage of the ISP’s revenues.

btrussell (profile) says:

“This 3.4 percent share is the same amount as the copyright fees on cable television.

But even in the event they begin to receive payments, Sabam stresses that any compensation would by no means legalize piracy. The license fee is only meant to legitimize the ISPs part in transferring these unauthorized files.”

That’s like saying I can’t watch tv after paying for cable.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“The license fee is only meant to legitimize the ISPs part in transferring these unauthorized files.”

So what is the fee for Sabam for providing material that can become unauthorized?

Think chicken and egg. If you don’t create the file, it can’t be made into an unauthorized copy, that in turn you demand payment from all ISPs for.

If they want to demand payments for the ISPs helping this unauthorized transferring of files, why does Sabam not have to pay a fee for creating the problem in the first place?

They seem unwilling to do anything to stop this other than demand payments from 3rd parties. What is their fair share to have to pay into the pool for causing the problem in the first place.

Mind you it might just be sleep deprived logic, but it makes sense in a sideways application of their own logic in demanding these fees.

btrussell (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Mind you it might just be sleep deprived logic, but it makes sense in a sideways application of their own logic in demanding these fees.”

I’m sure it is me.

Lack of sleep + excruciating pain = lack of comprehension

Whatever they charge us(82 500 for 2 1/2 minute song?) X number of employees/subs(companies are people, therefore employees are aiding and abetting) X number of ISP subscribers (sabam is profiting, Jammie wasn’t).

Unrelated, Free arcade racing game for MS PC

Butcherer79 (profile) says:

Let me get this straight...

Just so I’ve got the gist of this:
This 3.4% piracy fee is the standard rate that public broadcasters pay for all content.
SABAM by no means owns all content that is broadcast but still wants the full 3.4% (possible fraudulent claim).
Even though, in theory, users are paying for the content, streaming/downloading the content will still be considered piracy, for which presumably the user and/or ISP would be sued.
Appears to be much like an oxymoron to me: you will pay for this content license which in no way grants you privilege to said content.

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