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).
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.
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.
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.