Belgian Collection Society SABAM Caught Taking Cash For Made Up Bands It Didn't Represent

from the stay-classy dept

We've seen all sorts of ridiculous actions from various music collection societies over the past few years -- from PRS trying to charge a woman who played the radio for her horses to ASCAP claiming that a legally licensed ringtone also should require another license for being a "public performance." Apparently a satirical TV show in Belgium decided to see how far they could push the Belgian collection society, SABAM. While SABAM chose not to charge them for a ringtone "performance," it did send them invoices when they said they were going to have totally made up bands performing made up songs. Neither the bands nor the songs were actually covered by SABAM since they didn't actually exist. Yet, the invoices still came:
Making a telephone call to SABAM from a public toilet, a Basta team member looked at the manufacturer of a hand dryer and explained that Kimberly Clark would be performing at an upcoming event. That would cost 134 euros minimum said SABAM.

Next the playlist. What if Kimberly Clark sang songs not covered by SABAM? Titles such as 'Hot Breeze', 'Show Me Your Hands', 'I Wanna Blow You Dry', 'I'm Not a Singer I Am a Machine' and the ever-timeless, 'We Fooled You', for example.

Five days later the answer came from SABAM. All of the songs were "100% protected" and so Basta must pay 127.07 euros.

Concerned that this might be a one-off mistake, the Basta team tried again, this time taking brand names of products from the supermarket including Suzi Wan, the name of a Chinese food wok kit, Mister Cocktail and the Party Mix, which is a hybrid of a drink and some party food, and Ken Wood, the food mixer.

They got bills from SABAM for these 'artists' totalling more than 540 euros.
The group who did all this, Basta, then wondered who was getting all of this money, so it took the food they used in that second experiment and brought them to SABAM offices to sign up to collect their money. No such luck. Though, once exposed, SABAM found it in their hearts to return the money.

There are some other amusing parts to the show, including a fun bit that mocks SABAM's inability to understand zero. Apparently, the fees for parties are based on venue size, and the smallest size range is for places that range from 1 - 100 square meters. So, Basta set up a party in 0.99 square meters, and told SABAM about it. Rather than recogizing the put on, SABAM insisted that the "1" really meant "0" and handed them an invoice for 82 euros.

Nice to see collection societies around the globe living down to their reputations.

Filed Under: belgium, collections
Companies: sabam

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  1. icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), 10 Feb 2011 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You are so cute when you try to be mini-Mike. You even manage to make great leaps of logic in a single bound!

    Really? Really? This is such a clear case of negligence on their part, but oh no no no, I'm "mini-Mike" for thinking a collection society should be able to keep accurate records.

    Look, I'm not saying this was some malicious act, but no matter how you slice it, they were negligent. Why are you excusing them fucking up their own record keeping? Even if you support rights agencies like this, you should want them to be able to do their job properly. In this case, they clearly screwed up.

    Maybe it was systemic, maybe it was accidental, maybe it was a fluke. Nonetheless, they failed to accurately check a short list of songs against their artist roster. Why are you so desperate to excuse that? Good companies, good managers and good employers don't make excuses for failures - they accept responsibility and try to fix the problem.

    If the people who support rights agencies are also satisfied with them doing an inaccurate job, well, that's just one more reason I don't support them in the first place.

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