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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    Brian Schroth (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 8:48am

    Well, this is much worse than that time they were caught taking cash for made up bands that it did represent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Michael, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 8:53am

    .99 meters

    That's a pretty small venue - that's taking connecting with the fans a bit TOO seriously.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 9:01am

    Someone should do it to ASCAP since I'm pretty sure they don't check anything too.

    Most impressive is how collection agencies hate computers, because if they used them they actually would have to pay something to someone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Ben Robinson, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 9:07am

    At least PRS/MCPS aren't as bad as that.

    When I helped a band get a CD duplicated a few years ago and we applied to the PRS/MCPS for a licence (yes they had to apply to licence their own work before the CD duplication plant would produce their CDs) at least they did reply with a "we do not represent this music" type letter.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 9:08am

    The episode in which they expose the callgames is much better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 9:15am

    This again raises the question: "Who are the pirates?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    John Doe, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 9:22am

    This is hilarious...

    This is hilarious, but at the same time it isn't. Shouldn't the collection society be charged with fraud?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 9:23am

    Hot Breeze:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2uH0lBJrcg

    Show Me Your Hands:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrKJ77E-4cc

    I Want To Blow:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyaOy2GTt0Y

    I Am Machine:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6Aeq_r0AUs

    I Fooled Your This Time:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQK-OM9TfEQ

    I can find reasonably close songs on this, which may explain some of the errors.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 9:59am

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Feb 10th, 2011 @ 9:23am

      Please, you are clutching at straws here; Do you work for SABAM by any chance?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Johnny, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:06am

      Re:

      Close is not good enough. The songs you mention are not by Kimberly Clarke and most titles are different. Any check in a decent computer system would show them not to be registered with SABAM.

      It's a collection agency's duty to distribute earnings amongst the rightful artists, who were they going to distribute this to if it didn't match any of their records???

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:08am

        Re: Re:

        No wait, what, you are saying that artists never cover songs by other artists?

        Oh my god, someone shoot the cover bands.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Johnny, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So how do they know which artist was covered and who to pay out to?

          I am assuming that info would be required to be filled in on the form if it were a cover. It clearly wasn't in this case.

          You can twist it every way you want into what-if scenarios, but it's clear that SABAM was only interested in invoices and didn't give a sh*t about knowing who had to be paid out.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Seriously? Come on

          The long and the short of it here is that this collection society exists to manage the rights to music, and they completely failed at that. A few similarities between song names does not change the fact that they are apparently unable or unwilling to accurately keep track of their own business.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:12am

        Re: Re:

        They are going to invest in brainwashing for school kids.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      The eejit (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 12:07pm

      Re:

      That wasn't the point. The point is that the Collection Society was collecting money for a person that did not exist. Where I come from, that's obtaining monies by deception, and is illegal throughout the EU.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 12:58pm

        Re: Re:

        ... obtaining monies by deception, and is illegal throughout the EU.

        No, it is not illegal.

        You know that your made-up pretend “law” will not be enforced in this case. Therefore, it just isn't “illegal” to do that. Bitch and moan —all you want— about what you fantasize the law should be. But the actual law is what it is.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          nasch (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 1:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Charging someone money under false claims is not illegal in the EU?

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm not that familiar with EU law, but are you saying there is absolutely no way this could qualify as fraud of some sort?

          Please elaborate, because it certainly seems possible (even if unlikely). I'm assuming based on your tone that you can actually cite some relevant legislation here...

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 1:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            ... cite some relevant legislation here...

            The first law of political power.

             

             

            (Prove me wrong. Find an interested prosecutor. Except that you won't. And not only do I know that you won't, but you know it too.)

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              icon
              btr1701 (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 1:54pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              > > ... cite some relevant legislation here...

              > The first law of political power.

              So basically you're asserting that the system is corrupt and those with money and power are above the law.

              Glad you've finally come over to our side! Welcome!

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 2:01pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Glad you've finally come over to our side!

                Why on earth would you ever imagine that I'm on “your side”? You're not on my side.

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                •  
                  icon
                  btr1701 (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 3:58pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  > Why on earth would you ever imagine that I'm
                  > on “your side”?

                  Because your comment supports "our" side's position.

                   

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              icon
              Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 2:11pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yeah, the question here is not whether they are likely to be prosecuted, but whether this counts as fraud.

              I agree there is basically no chance of this being prosecuted, but lets look at your original (highly childish and bitchy) quote:

              You know that your made-up pretend “law” will not be enforced in this case. Therefore, it just isn't “illegal” to do that.

              You are asserting that this doesn't run afoul of any laws. Well, it sounds to me like it might, so show me the legislation if you are insisting so vehemently that fraud is a "made-up pretend law"

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            icon
            Richard (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 1:34pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            If this was the UK it seems to fit this provision very well

            http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/35/section/4

            I can't believe Belgian law is that different.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 1:45pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I can't believe Belgian law is that different.

              Belgium... the UK... the whole EU. And, beyond that, all North America. Japan. Korea. Both Koreas. China. The New Russia and the old Soviet Union... It doesn't matter what some moldy text says. It matters how the law is applied: And who gets it applied unto them.

              That's the law.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                icon
                Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 2:13pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                So basically you realized that you are wrong and have nothing to back up your assertions about the law, so you have changed your stance and now say that all written law is meaningless. Nice save!

                And um, if you have ever EVER read a court ruling or a legal opinion or, well, anything, you would know that the 'moldy text' is indeed very important. It can be manipulated, and it's not black and white, but it's far from meaningless.

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                icon
                Richard (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 5:12am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Belgium... the UK... the whole EU. And, beyond that, all North America. Japan. Korea. Both Koreas. China. The New Russia and the old Soviet Union... It doesn't matter what some moldy text says. It matters how the law is applied: And who gets it applied unto them.

                That's the law.


                Now you sound like a 1930's gangster running a protection racket with the police force all bought off ...Oh wait yes - now I understand.

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 7:27am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                YES, it IS illegal to take money on pretences. Of course it is. Even a child can work that one out.

                And yes, it is true everywhere in the world... except TAM Town, where taking money on pretences is the norm. Exhibit A: The Music Industry.

                Oops, sorry, small correction, TAM's BOSS' town. TAM just cleans the toilets but his boss promised him the kingdom of a small island once he's helped him take over the world and he really, really means it!

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Richard (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 1:25pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, it is not illegal.

          You know that your made-up pretend “law” will not be enforced in this case. Therefore, it just isn't “illegal” to do that. Bitch and moan —all you want— about what you fantasize the law should be. But the actual law is what it is.


          Well it definitely used to be illegal in the UK
          Visit this page for details. That particular wording has now been replaced by the fraud act 2006. But the substance of the law is unchanged. The behaviour of SABAM would still be illegal in the UK under the fraud act. It would constitute fraud by failing to disclose information. I would be extremely surprised if the law elsewhere in the EU is different.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Richard (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 12:42pm

      Re:

      There are many songs with duplicate titles - if SABAM knew what they were doing they would have come back with a question about who the composer was when the title quoted matched (or nearly matched) one in the database that they don't actually seem to have. The fact that they didn't tells yoiu that they just don't check these things at all.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Richard (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 12:52pm

      Re:

      I can find reasonably close songs on this, which may explain some of the errors.

      If you can find some reasonably close songs just using the public internet in a few minutes how come a professional collection society can't do it on its own private database in a few seconds!

      I think you just made the point rather well!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 7:15am

      Re:

      "....reasonably close....."

      That's the comedy post of the week, right there. Did he really just go and search around for these titles, providing links as well? Dude, you seriously need counselling, it really is pathological with you.

      +1 to the number of people BASTA made look stupid.

      PURE COMEDY GOLD!!

      BTW: SABAM did no searching or checking for any songs so there was no error. The only search they made was of the price list.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 9:29am

    Not to mention of course the singer Kim Clark:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1yjTxjVPHU

    Or Kim Clark-Champniss:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jL30Z1R09Y

    Nope, no chance for any confusion at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:11am

      Re:

      Which is why they did the food names afterwards. Did you finish the article?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:31am

      Re:

      The sole function of a collection society like this is to represent artists and collect dues for the artists they represent. Pretty much the ONLY thing they have to do is know which artists are on their roster - and they failed at that. Confusion, even if it was legitimate, is no excuse. And frankly I doubt it was legitimate: lots of artists and songs have similar names, and if their approach (which took 5 days I might remind you) was to say "oh yeah that sounds kind of familiar, I remember a song with something about drying or whatever" and then send off a bill - well, they clearly aren't doing a very good job (or even trying to)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:47am

        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!

        which took 5 days I might remind you

        Are you suggesting that from the moment of the phone call, at least one person worked non-stop for 5 days to process this application, spending 40+ hours to review it?

        Come on!

        Don't you think it is more likely that it went onto a form, someone did some computer matches 4 days later, gave it to a biller, who generated an invoice on the 5th day?

        On one side you make them sound careless and working from memory, and on the other side you suggest they took 5 days so they researched it carefully.

        Which one is it?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 10th, 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.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 11:09am

          Re: Re: Re:

          (p.s, the attempts to brand anyone who agrees with Techdirt's stance as some sort of cultist or sycophant is getting old. It's a pretty pathetic way to try to win an argument.)

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 11:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            To be fair, it is all they have left.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 6:24pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I could say the sky is blue, if Mike said green, you would say green. It's not hard to follow.

            Can you please point to any of your comments where you don't agree with Mike?

            Help me out here.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 7:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I'm for inaccurate record-keeping as well.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              icon
              techflaws.org (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 2:20am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Can you point out any of his comments where he agreed with Mike where Mike was wrong? Of course pointing out without your usual "I am right and you are wrong" basell bullshit.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              icon
              Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 7:37am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Can you point out any of your comments where you agree with Mike? If Mike said the sky was blue, you'd insist it was green.

              See: that sword cuts both ways. You can't invalidate my opinions just by pointing out that they are often aligned with someone else's.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 7:37am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Proof that right or wrong are irrelevant to TAM.

              Only Mike or NotMike matters in his psychotic little brain.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              icon
              Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 7:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              (I also rather like how you completely ignored the comment above, where I explain very clearly why you are wrong about SABAM - I guess you know when to quit, at least)

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 6:28pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Despite what you might think, this sort of thing is completely unacceptable. You do not bill someone for something that might possibly be close. If you cannot prove the charges are valid, then you should be brought up on charges of fraud. Willful, at that.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Richard (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 12:45pm

      Re:

      If there is uncertainty then you don't just say "yes yes and take the money" you cross check. They didn't.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 1:21pm

      Re:

      So you found two artists with the same name. If SABAM can't tell the fake artist with fake songs apart from real artists with different songs and real songs with different artists, how the hell are they going to keep Kim Clark and Kim Clark-Champniss separated? How many times has Kim Clark been payed when Kim Clark-Champniss should have been?

      Why do people trust these groups any more?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 9:43am

    Only one question

    Why aren't these bozos (the executive staff of SABAM specifically) in jail for fraud?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      harbingerofdoom (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:15am

      Re: Only one question

      because, they are the guardians of our musical heritage and culture. imprison them and anarchy and chaos are sure to happen followed quickly by the earth imploding upon itself.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:39am

      Re: Only one question

      Why aren't these bozos (the executive staff of SABAM specifically) in jail for fraud?

      Don't be silly.

       

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Greg G (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:14am

    Hmmm@'I Wanna Blow You Dry'

    Now there's a video that needs to be made.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Richard (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 12:49pm

      Re:

      The "you" in question is of course a large hairy dog...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 7:40am

      Re:

      They already made it! Unfortunately, once they reviewed the finished video, they realised they had actually recorded "I'll Towel You Dry A Bit" by mistake and hadn't noticed it was a completely different song because it was............... wait for it............. REASONABLY CLOSE AHAHAHAHA!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Johnny, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    SABAM steals

    Another interesting moment is when the SABAM tears down the poster of the first party and takes it with him.

    That's theft (in the real meaning of the word).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Does anyone else find it *really* funny that TAM (at least i'm pretty sure it's him) is actually trying to defend SABAM here? Because... wow.... desperation ftw!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Johnny, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    Some points

    For those who couldn't watch the show due to not being able to understand Flemish, a few points:

    - The BASTA team, sent 5 or 6 playlists worth of non-existing artists and non-existing songs, they got an invoice in each case. In other words, this was no error, nor was it a 1 time mistake, it's systematic.

    - As for the "reasonably close" comments, the SABAM invoices stated that the works were "100% protected", the camera shows this several times during the show. That statement implies that it was checked by SABAM. While evidently they didn't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Ash, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 6:40pm

    Re: Agreeing with Mike

    "Can you please point to any of your comments where you don't agree with Mike?"

    Only if you can point to YOUR comments where you AGREE with Mike.

    Oh wait, you can't - Because you're an Anonymous Coward...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), Feb 21st, 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?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This