Slovak Collecting Society Sends Village Invoice For Singing Folk Song About Itself

from the same-old-story dept

Performing rights societies probably don’t have the best reputations here on Techdirt, but just when you think they can’t get any more outrageous in their demands, they do. Here are two stories from the Slovak Republic, both involving SOZA, the Slovak Performing and Mechanical Rights Society:

The recent case of the local village of Pohorela being charged EUR 62.40 [about $75] by copyright association SOZA because children sang copyrighted songs on Mothers’ Day has to be one of the most absurd cases of copyright being enforced in Slovakia.

TheDaily first drew attention to the Pohorela case by sharing it on Facebook at the end of May, but the case is not unique. Other villages and towns may also receive the same kinds of bills, like the one sent to the village of Helpa, which is being charged possibly for singing the well-known folk song celebrating the village called “To ta Helpa!”, for instance.

Although the first paragraph mentions “copyrighted songs”, the Facebook page referred to talks about “our folk songs”, which would presumably not be in copyright (Slovak original.) In either case, it seems a bit extreme to charge for children singing to their own mothers. The second story seems more clear-cut: SOZA is trying to charge a village for singing a “well known” folk song about itself, which adds insult to injury.

The article quoted above notes that this is not the only problem with SOZA’s invoicing habits:

Cinemas in particular are not happy with the fees, which are charged regardless of what film is showing, if there is any music in the film, and even though copyright fees are covered already in the film rental.

Paying for something you didn’t have, or being forced to pay twice: sounds like collecting societies are the same everywhere.

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Comments on “Slovak Collecting Society Sends Village Invoice For Singing Folk Song About Itself”

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31 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

‘children sang copyrighted songs on Mothers? Day has to be one of the most absurd cases of copyright being enforced in Slovakia.’
this is surely one of the most disgraceful cases of copyright enforcement ever!

‘Paying for something you didn’t have, or being forced to pay twice: sounds like collecting societies are the same everywhere’
not just collecting societies, is it? it’s the same with every branch of the entertainment industry and we have only ourselves to blame for letting them get away with this sort of thing for as long as they have. sharing has been in existence forever, regardless of how that sharing is done, and will continue to be so. paying sensible money for something once isn’t or shouldn’t be a problem. being expected to pay multiple times for the same end result is where it’s not just wrong but a total piss take. it should have been fought against and stopped decades ago!

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They are. These collection societies are pirates: they swoop in unannounced, strike fear and terror into the hearts of their victims, extract or extort as much money as possible and then depart for the next victim. Afterward, any loot they have is either buried and hidden, or shared only amongst themselves and their most successful clients.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The pirates are the bad guys. Those children were pirating music by singing in public without paying for the right. Everyone has to pay if they want to publicly sing songs that they didn’t create.

If people don’t pay for these things then culture will die and no more songs will ever be made and we’ll be stuck with only the songs humanity has produced up til now.

It hurts to even parrot this ridiculous drivel.

flubaluba (profile) says:

Really , lets forward this

Seriously this is getting way out of hand , I think we all need to collect all of these articles showing how draconian the collection society is and how the copyright laws need to be limited much much more. Send copy of the links to these articles all of these ridiculous claims for money to all your Mp’s and to everyone in a position of power and ask them to bring it up whenever the copyright laws are about to be changed.
This is the most ridiculous story , well other than the one where a person stocking shelves was humming and they wanted to sue her, or when children have to pay to be allowed to sing happy birthday at parties.
Damn there are so many other crazy stories it is unbelievable. Maybe we need the MP’s to understand this is not a rumour or a joke but is actually happening, maybe they thing people are just trying to pull there leg, as i think this is what i would think regarding these stories

ASTROBOI says:

Did they pay?

It’s one thing to send a bill. What happens if this happy village tells them to sod off. Do the collection societies have the force of law to collect? Is it a real tax or fee that the government will enforce? If not, maybe this is just an attempt to see who is dumb enough to pay. We have plenty of that sort of activity in the USA. Here, many people get regular phone calls from dodgy debt collectors trying to collect non-collectible debts, debts of former residents, dead relatives, former holders of a phone number and the like.

zub says:

Re: Did they pay?

I don’t know the details, but they certainly can – and possibly will – sue the municipality.

Here’s is something that looks like an official statement of the municipality: http://www.pohorela.sk/pages/clanok.php?id=1232

For those few of you who don’t speak Slovak :), it details their dealings with SOZA. The municipality is asserting they were singing only old folk songs that are not covered by copyright and thus they don’t see any obligation to pay. And SOZA makes a bizzare claim that even old folk tunes have their “editors” (whatever they mean) and so they have to pay anyway…

Last paragraph is a strong assertion that the municipality doesn’t see a reason to pay and that they would be breaking the laws regarding copyright and public spending if they did. They claim they tried to discuss the situation with SOZA on several occasions and that they are prepared to fight this in court.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Did they pay?

Yes – this is a well lnown trick of the musical publishing industry – transcribe a piece and print it – and magically create a new copyright.

This issue has been tested in court in the UK – and the result was mixed. You need to demonstrate some creative input in order to establish a new copyright and in the one case that I am aware of the “editor” won on some counts and lost on others.

That is why organisations like musopen and mutopia that work with public domain music have to be scrupulous to only use public domain editions as a starting point

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Did they pay?

And SOZA makes a bizzare claim that even old folk tunes have their “editors” (whatever they mean) and so they have to pay anyway…

Then surely, since SOZA asserts that even old folk tunes have their “editors”, they can find said editors and confirm that they do own the copyright to said songs.

Seriously, though, this shouldn’t even be an issue. “Weird Al” Yankovic requested permission to parody “La Bamba” into “Lasagna”; not only was he not required to do so due to parody being fair use, “La Bamba” is a traditional folk song and has no one to ask permission from.

Violated (profile) says:

Corrupt

This is no surprise to me when such money collecting organizations like SOZA are the worst of the worst. Go though their accounts and you should find many laws broken.

All they do is to try and extract money from all the people they can and then find ways how not to pay the musicians. So a whole of money is kept by SOZA and their management. It all falls somewhere between sad joke and extreme corruption.

As to kids singing to their mothers then to pay a fee for this right forms a contract and as we know no person under the age of 18 can enter into a contract. So any such agreement is null and void.

ZenCitizen (profile) says:

Singing Folk Songs

Everyone above misses the point about singing ‘Folk songs.’ It is really about Crots, Serbs and Muslims. Crots don’t like Serbs singing their songs. Serbs don’t like Muslims singing any songs at all. Serbs don’t want Crots singing their songs which were stolen by the Crots. The Crots don’t want any Muslim to know any folk song that is sung that relates to either Crots or Serbs. The war isn’t over yet. They’re just not using bullets anymore.

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