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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Comments on “Collection Society To Libraries: No Story Time For Kids Unless You Pay To Read Aloud”

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Andrew (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Bill says:

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.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Ninja (profile) says:

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.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:


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.

Squig (profile) says:

In Germany Pre-schools (well, we call them Kinderg?rten, 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…)

Mr. LemurBoy (profile) says:

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.

Al Bert (profile) says:

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.

Selene says:

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…

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 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.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

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).


That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: 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.

aread says:


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.

DRGEE says:


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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