Moronic Swedish Collections Group Argues That A Car Stereo In A Rental Vehicle Is A Public Performance

from the PROs-are-their-own-satirical-figures dept

It's tempting to open with a caveat -- "performance rights organizations (PROs) can serve a valuable purpose" -- before heading off towards the blithering insanity they've devolved into in recent years. It's tempting, but I won't do it. What I will say is that the notion of collecting public performance royalties isn't necessarily wrong, but the way it's been handled by everyone from GEMA to ASCAP has been a farce -- proof that the narrow line between stupid and evil can easily be erased with a small hit of officiousness.

When PROs collect fees from bars, restaurants and nightclubs, it does make a certain amount of sense. Even if I don't necessarily agree that these "rights" are baked into people's musical creations, there's something to be said for music being an integral part of some of these public venues. But the notion that a public performance right exists at all runs at odds with common sense, as do the actions of the PROs themselves. Any band playing a concert venue will be subject to PRO fees (usually hidden somewhere in the venue's deducted costs) even though they're playing their own music. Somehow, this money will make its way back to… well, generally not the band itself. The money is pooled and divvied up into smaller piles of payouts that rest comfortably on the larger earnings of the top few bands on the PROs' rosters.

Because the PROs will cease to exist without steadily increasing collections, they have branched out. It's no longer limited to BMI shaking down local pubs for high-dollar licensing fees, even if said pub only hosts local, indie artists. No, now it's actions like charging the Girl Scouts for singalongs, charging small auto shops for the personal CDs played in the garage by their mechanics, charging companies for allowing employees to listen to radios in their cubicles and charging hotel rooms for the "public performances" performed by seldom-if-ever-used in-room clock radios.

Now, there's this, via TorrentFreak -- a Swedish PRO going after car rental companies because rented cars contain publicly-performing radios.
Each car rented out by Fleetmanager contains a stereo radio and CD player so that the customer can enjoy broadcasts of all kinds, including music. STIM (collecting society Svenska Tonsättares Internationella Musikbyrå) says that to do so legally Fleetmanager needs to obtain a license but to date has failed to do so.

According to SVD, STIM is arguing that the inside of Fleetmanager’s cars contain members of the public and therefore amount to public places. On this basis the company needs to obtain a public performance license. Fleetmanager disagrees, noting that any music played inside a car is only heard by a limited circle of people.
In its defense, STIM cites previous madhattery by other PROs.
The collection society says that previous cases involving hoteliers have ended with licenses being obtained which enable hotel guests to listen to music while on the premises.
It also trots out the weak game theory routinely deployed by other non-trustworthy entities -- like cops seeking to coerce a confession or your peer group's insistence that a vodka-soaked tampon is a great way to get hammered.
Furthermore, other car rental companies in Sweden have already agreed to pay a per-stereo levy so Fleetmanager should also pay, STIM argues.
The proper response would be to ask if STIM finds mugging weak and stupid people enjoyable. Fleetmanager's response isn't noted in TorrentFreak's article, other than the obvious hints that it's not interested in paying flat-rate fees for one of the worst public performance arguments ever deployed. An in-car stereo is not a public performance, even if it is a rented vehicle. If you take a bunch of friends on a road trip in your own vehicle, you have not created a public performance no matter how many times the radio is turned on. Renting it from a third party doesn't change anything but the name on the vehicle's title.

Without a doubt, PROs are proving to be endlessly creative -- albeit in ways that do nothing for them or a large majority of their artists. Instead, it makes the agencies look like low-rent thugs whose best shakedown ideas are hammered out over amyl poppers, jello shots and Powerpoint decks.
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Filed Under: collection societies, copyright, public performance, sweden
Companies: fleetmanager, stim


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 6:51am

    in ways that do nothing for them

    On the contrary, it brings more money to their own pockets. It's just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. And even if there is public outrage it's ok, they will still be mandatory by law in the end.

    This shit is just one of the many evidence that copyright does shit to the creators. It's just a mechanism to concentrate money into few hands.

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

  • icon
    jameshogg (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 8:04am

    Stretching this nonsense far enough, reading an open book on a public train could probably count as a public performance. Since anyone else could read it.

    And you never owned that book in the first place. You just owned a license to make a copy of that book via the beams of light that reflect off of it and hit your eyes. Which means you also don't have the right to lend it to anyone else, as it'd be making an unauthorised copy (via the beams of light) in the process.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 8:46am

      Re:

      You just described the MAFIAA Utopia.

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

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 9:11am

      Re:

      > You just owned a license to make a copy of that book via
      > the beams of light that reflect off of it and hit your eyes.


      Wait . . . . . . those photons used in reading the book are not covered by 'mechanical' or other rights.

      Hey! I think you've just identified a new right in copyright that needs to be collected! For the artists and authors of course.

      Argument:

      Those photons, once they bounce off the text of the book, now encode the copyrighted text of the book for your eyes. A special fee needs to be collected for that, beyond the compensation the author gets for merely publishing a copy of the book.

      Furthermore, not all of those photons that bounced off the page will go to your eyes. Some of those photons that are subject to a license fee will scatter in many other directions. Even bouncing off other objects and then eventually into the eyes of other people on the train. Or even people not on the train. After all, a stationary person can see things inside the train as it passes. Therefore photons from the interior of the train manage to escape to stationary persons the train passes. Some of those photons may need a license due to having bounced off the page of the copyrighted book.


      First we must get the Library of Congress to recognize this.

      Once that is done, we need to consider photons emitted from light sources, such as television screens. If you have ever been riding a bicycle or driving a car, you have undoubtedly noticed the glow of a television through the curtains of someone's window. You might even simply notice the glow of a TV reflected off a ceiling or wall. Nonetheless, those photons may now be copyrighted and subject to licensing. Who pays? The passer by who receives the benefit of seeing those photons? Or the home owner who is allowing photons from their TV to leak into the public space, and thus creating a public performance?

      Many lawyers will need to work to resolved these issues. Fortunately for us all, we can be sure that hard working organizations such as the RIAA and MPAA will diligently pursue the legal research required to determine the difficult licensing and collection issues involved. Keep up the good work guys! The licensing is getting too complicated for the rest of us.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 2:05pm

        Re: Re:

        Who pays? The passer by who receives the benefit of seeing those photons? Or the home owner who is allowing photons from their TV to leak into the public space, and thus creating a public performance?


        Both obviously. The former is a pirate and the latter is a bootlegger. Only a dirty pirate would suggest that only one of them has to pay. Why do you hate artists?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 4:26pm

      Re:

      Stretching this nonsense far enough, reading an open book on a public train could probably count as a public performance. Since anyone else could read it.

      That's not a stretch, there have actually been people(well, 'collection' agencies) who have argued pretty much exactly that with regards to libraries offering public readings to children.

      "You're reading a copyrighted work to a group of people, which makes it a public performance, which means you need to pay. Cough up the cash or see us in court."

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 6:19am

        Re: Re:

        That's not a stretch, there have actually been people(well, 'collection' agencies) who have argued pretty much exactly that with regards to libraries offering public readings to children.

        While terrible, that is not the same as reading a book where someone else might be able to see it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 8:15am

    I thought the radio stations one tuned into already paid that performance tax. If so, that would be double dipping, no?

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

  • identicon
    Wise Guy, 5 Jan 2015 @ 8:31am

    Next these goombahs will hit up the people who make the showers for hotels because people singing in there would also be considered a public performance.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 8:31am

    I wonder how long it will be until the PROs decide people who drive down the street with their car stereos cranked up to the max will have to pay rights fees.

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

  • icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 8:42am

    By their logic, the loudness of the music in my car must also be a public performance.

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

  • icon
    wereisjessicahyde (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 8:44am

    Not moronic just greedy.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 8:46am

    Under their logic, it would seem I'm violating the grocery's store's rights if I buy their groceries, and then sell some food I made with the groceries.

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

  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 8:51am

    If the car rental company controlled what music was played in the car, they might have a point. You think that in order to be a public performance, you'd have to have some control over what was being performed.

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

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 5 Jan 2015 @ 8:54am

    Radio stations (terrestrial and satellite) pay a mechanical license. CD makers pay royalties to the rights holders typically through the labels or publishing houses.

    So, what copyright holder is not being properly compensated?

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

    • identicon
      Lurker Keith, 5 Jan 2015 @ 10:11am

      Re:

      The Artists, or Labels*, the PROs aren't paying, & probably wouldn't be passing this on to.






      *Too bad I couldn't just stop at Artist, but the Labels still the rights from the Artists... That should be illegal...

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 1:11am

      Re:

      To understand these people, you have to redefine the English language. So, "sharing" is "stealing", "purchase" means that you have a temporary, revokable licence that stops you from modifying what you "own", "compensating artists" means taking a 98% service fee and only giving money to a handful of artists who may not have been involved in the performance being paid for, "public performance" includes playing music to horses or a single person, etc.

      Here, "properly compensated" means "as much as we can get". It all makes sense if you just write the dictionary to suit your own needs.

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

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 5 Jan 2015 @ 8:57am

    They should go after the window manufacturers. If the radio is on and the windows are rolled down, this automatically creates a public performance, so the window manufacturers should have to pay royalties.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 8:57am

    When your neighbor has their stereo up too loud for you to hear, they should be charged a public performance fee.

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

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 9:15am

      Re:

      Hey, I like that!

      Any time a local noise ordinance is violated, the proper police procedure should be to have the proper legal authorities (RIAA, MPAA, collection societies, etc) investigate whether any public performance rights license fees are required.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 2:39pm

      Re:

      quote...When your neighbor has their stereo up too loud for you to hear, they should be charged a public performance fee...endquote


      Same for car stereos!

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 5 Jan 2015 @ 9:03am

    Best argument ever award:

    STIM is arguing that the inside of Fleetmanager’s cars contain members of the public and therefore amount to public places

    by that logic, anywhere that any person can go must be public.

    Also, if I happen to take a dump on their desk in their office, it has been used as a bathroom, therefore it must be a bathroom, so it is ok.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 12:42am

      Re:

      Not only that, but you are a member of the public so therefore their office is a public restroom. Anyone else should be able to come on and do the same. If I didn't avoid public restrooms whenever possible, I'd be next in line...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 9:04am

    Perhaps they should go after ....

    those idiots who play their car stereos at ear blasting volume with the windows down? You could justifiably call that a "public performance." And at the same time they would be doing a public service. But then again, the usual method is to go after the deep pockets.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 9:19am

      Re: Perhaps they should go after ....

      But then again, the usual method is to go after the deep pockets.

      More its a way of hiding the fact that they are being charged from the public, many of whom seem to think that the company will pay. They overlook that the company will pass on the charge, plus a generous markup for administration and to add to their profit; which is yet another case of artists making money for other people rather than themselves.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 9:06am

    per·for·mance
    noun \pə(r)-ˈfȯr-mən(t)s\

    : an activity (such as singing a song or acting in a play) that a person or group does to entertain an audience

    The playing of something that is recorded should not be considered a performance... period. The performance is done once at the time of the recording.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 9:32am

    'Moronic Swedish Collections Group Argues That A Car Stereo In A Rental Vehicle Is A Public Performance'

    let me just remind you that almost all of the other expectations that have been demanded from the industries have been granted to them! on top of that, had the US government and Congress members had a set of balls, the copyright 'problem' wouldn't exist in the first place and then these 'Moronic Collection Groups' wouldn't have a leg to stand on. the reason it is in such shit order is because those members mentioned were more interested in upping their bank balances and doing 'favors' for ex colleagues than doing their bloody jobs! their failures have meant the 'problem' has spread world wide and is now removing the basic parts of a democratic society, ie freedom of speech and privacy! the way things are going, we may just as well let Hitler win WWII!!

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

  • icon
    Larry Vrooman (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 10:07am

    Moronic Swedish Collections Group Argues That A Car Stereo In A Rental Vehicle Is A Public Performance

    Our U.S. Government REQUIRES radios in cars. Why should any U.S. citizen pay the music industry anything?

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 10:16am

      Re: Moronic Swedish Collections Group Argues That A Car Stereo In A Rental Vehicle Is A Public Performance

      It does? I couldn't find this requirement in a quick web search. Can you point to the law?

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

      • icon
        Larry Vrooman (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 10:37am

        Re: Re: Moronic Swedish Collections Group Argues That A Car Stereo In A Rental Vehicle Is A Public Performance

        I made that comment from memory. As I recall it happened in the 60s or 70s as a 'Safety' requirement. Anybody can correct me, please. (I did an internet search as well & cannot find it either)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 10:29am

    Abolish Copyright

    Period.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 10:45am

    You gotta wonder...

    if they have considered that these companies who doesn't automatically pay the PROs (stupid opposite name if there ever were any) are not automatically evil, but simply have never considered paying because of how utterly, insanely stupid it is?
    What is next? Campfire songs?...oh wait, they did that.
    Humming a song while outside your house?
    "Please give us money as your neighbor heard your music while partying last night. That will be $1000"
    "That is a nice happy birthday card with music you got there, but since you opened it while your guests were there, it constitutes a public performance and you now owe us license fees"

    How insane does it have to be, before it is crazy enough to laugh and dismiss? Is any of the ludicrous examples you can come up with really that "out there" anymore?

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

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 11:59am

      Brain Implants

      Brain Implants are the answer. They should be implanted at birth. Whenever you see or hear anything copyrighted, you are automatically charged and performance rights organizations are properly compensated. This will help them to hire additional lawyers, and to discover new 'rights' that can be split out of current copyright law requiring additional licensing.

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

      • icon
        tqk (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 5:31pm

        Re: Brain Implants

        Brain Implants are the answer.

        You're trying to solve a social problem with technology.

        I believe it would be much simpler to just hand them a phone book so they can call each number and demand they pay. As justification, they're operating a business within an atmosphere, and as sound generally travels through the atmosphere, they're liable. Smiple [sic].

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

  • icon
    Adam (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 11:08am

    I participate is dozens of car shows every year. I can't count the number of 'public performances' I hear at each one... how long before that must obtain a license?

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 7:19am

      Re:

      I participate is dozens of car shows every year. I can't count the number of 'public performances' I hear at each one... how long before that must obtain a license?

      The venue is most likely already paying.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 11:53am

    They tried this same scheme in Norway, got a lower court to side with the agency (Gramo), but a higher court sided with the car rental agencies that no fees where to be paid.

    Norwegian text about case:
    http://www.nrk.no/norge/slipper-a-betale-radioavgift-1.11761580

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 4:55pm

    Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is enforced. Bawk!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 2:56am

    "Moronic Swedish Collections Group Argues That A Car Stereo In A Rental Vehicle Is A Public Performance"
    Ah, Oh! I did not know Germany's agencies invaded Sweden!?!

    It would help to add to the article a benchmark including similar (and way older) stupid taxes like the ones in UK and Germany. A BIG colorful gif/png too.

    And also all the trouble they generate; like "playing classical music to tame horses" is obviously a public performance in Germany, or also FCKING singing in a church...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 10:55am

    According to SVD, STIM is arguing that the inside of Fleetmanager’s cars contain members of the public and therefore amount to public places


    Why stop at rentals? After all, purchased cars ALSO contain "members of the public". Why not collect this fee from all car stereos, instead of just rented ones? Car doesn't have a stereo? That's OK, we can still collect. It has an electrical system, and that system could be used to run a stereo. (Hypotheticals are clearly OK; they already want to collect based on cars having stereos whether or not they are turned on.)

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 11:27am

      Re:

      Why stop at rentals? After all, purchased cars ALSO contain "members of the public". Why not collect this fee from all car stereos, instead of just rented ones?

      Presumably that is where they're headed if this sticks.

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

  • identicon
    Paul Audio, 28 Jan 2015 @ 10:13am

    Too Much

    This is just too much, I wonder if this is going to increase the current rates of rental cars.

    Paul - Car Audio Installation

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

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    Chennai To Kalahasti Tour Package

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