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
    Bergman (profile), 21 Feb 2012 @ 7:49pm

    If they charge 82 euros for a 0.99 square meter party, what's the fee for an infinite number of angels dancing on the head of a pin?

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