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Bulgarian Public Radio Forbidden To Play 14 Million Pieces Of Music By Copyright Collection Society

from the let-them-listen-to-folk-music dept

As stories from the UK, Kenya, Peru, Slovakia, Canada, Germany, Taiwan, and the US demonstrate, there's really something rather special about copyright collection societies. Back in 2012, Mike discussed a paper on the subject that listed over 90 examples of actions taken by collection societies around the world that have been bad either for artists or for users. Looks like we can add Bulgaria to the list:

The Bulgarian National Radio [BNR] and copyright organization Musicautor remain at loggerheads over music fees, with officials being cautious in their reaction.

Since January 01, the public radio is barred from playing more than 14 000 000 musical pieces from around the world and plays mostly classical music, jazz and folklore music.

As the report on the novinite.com site from Bulgaria's capital Sofia explains, that's because Musicautor is demanding that the present music licensing fee of 1% of BNR's state subsidy should increase to 3%. It tries to justify that massive rise by pointing out that other countries around Europe pay a similarly elevated fee. But as the head of Bulgaria's radio explains:

the demand from Musicautor is a burden on [BNR's] budget and "does not rest on economic realities". He accuses the organization of abusing its monopoly over copyright and warns if the radio were to agree, it would have to take one of its regional programs off air, infringing on the public interest.

Just because copyright collection societies have succeeded in squeezing fat licensing fees out of public broadcasters in other countries doesn't mean that this is some inalienable right everywhere. Rather, it reflects the power -- the monopoly power, in fact -- of a collection society to threaten to stop people listening to millions of the most popular tracks on their national radio stations, however unreasonably, simply because it can.

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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 9 Jan 2017 @ 12:17pm

    Copyright - it's main use today seems to be supporting parasitic societies & locking content away from the world until their ransom is paid.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2017 @ 12:17pm

    "As the report on the novinite.com site from Bulgaria's capital Sofia explains, that's because Musicautor is demanding that the present music licensing fee of 1% of BNR's state subsidy should increase to 3%."

    And if that increase to 3% is met than how soon will it be before the Musicautor then demands another increase and another increase etc. When you give in to pay an extortionists demand the extortionist will be back for ever increasing demand again and again.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Jan 2017 @ 12:19pm

    Ah collection agencies...

    'Serving' the artists by making sure no-one hears any of their music.

    Raise of hands, does anyone think that if BNR agreed to the rate increase the artists would see three times as much in royalty payments?

    On the upside, more classical music, so I suppose that's one good thing.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2017 @ 12:19pm

    It sounds like we all owe the (Bulgarian) Man a round of applause for standing up to the (Music) Man.

    You go Man. You show the Man what's up.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2017 @ 1:23pm

    Oh no! 3% licensing fee for a radio station? That's outrageous! And you're 100% right that collecting more in royalties is "bad . . . for artists." Keep up the awesome job, Techdirt! Fighting the good fight... For artists!

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

    • icon
      Mononymous Tim (profile), 9 Jan 2017 @ 2:31pm

      Re:

      Show proof that any of that will go to the artists.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Jan 2017 @ 3:30pm

      Re:

      If a 2% increase isn't that big of a deal, then clearly the collection agency can do without it either.

      As for 'bad for the artists', I'd say it's pretty safe to say that using said artists as a 'bargaining' chip, 'Pay us triple what you have been or you can't use any modern music', resulting in no modern music being played is anything but in the best interests of said artists.

      Having your music played on radio is of significant benefit, even to the point that you've got labels paying to have specific music played, so making demands that results in no music being played is clearly working against the interest of musicians.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2017 @ 4:17pm

      Re:

      How's that John Steele defense fund coming along, bro?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 10 Jan 2017 @ 1:20am

      Re:

      "Oh no! 3% licensing fee for a radio station? That's outrageous"

      As an increase from 1%? Yes, tripling a fee overnight is pretty outrageous, glad you agree. I've glad someone's taking a stand against such naked profiteering.

      "And you're 100% right that collecting more in royalties is "bad . . . for artists.""

      As already stated, please provide evidence that this will make it to artists. I haven't seen anything specific from Bulgaria, but most other collection fees do have a habit of not making it to most artists.

      In the meantime, how much in the way of royalties are the artists going to receive when their music is getting played 0 times vs the X times at 1%? Not to mention, with the music being "mostly classical music, jazz and folklore music", how many of the artists are even alive? Sounds to me more like music being robbed from the public domain again to pay the middlemen who had nothing to do with the music's creation.

      "Keep up the awesome job, Techdirt! Fighting the good fight... For artists!"

      The funny thing is, if you remove the sarcasm from your trolling, you're actually correct - this article is a good argument in favour of the artists. A shame your type supports the corporates trying to rip them off at every turn, rather than the public entity trying to provide access to a wider array of culture.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2017 @ 1:32pm

    thank miss streep and friends

    the real reason she got angry is cause if trump succeeds it will mean less hollywood and more for everyone else....

    ya i say screw hollywood and its beginning

    oh and 3% fee of what? 10000000 ?
    whats teh fee

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

  • icon
    TRX (profile), 9 Jan 2017 @ 2:36pm

    > Radio

    Radio? Is that still a thing?

    "It's like television for blind people..."

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

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 9 Jan 2017 @ 2:40pm

    So that's 14 million songs that won't be heard, and therefore listeners won't be inclined to buy the corresponding albums. Sound good Musicautor?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2017 @ 3:32pm

    arrr me mateys

    Sounds like a job for pirate radio.

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

  • icon
    CanadianByChoice (profile), 9 Jan 2017 @ 9:01pm

    2% increase? noooooooo .....

    Going from 1% to 3% is not a "2% increase" - it's a 300% increase. Try absorbing a 300% increase of any expense and see how your business fairs. The extra expenditure has to come from somewhere, and accommodating it may tip the scale from "viable" to "impossible" if the business is already on a tight margin.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2017 @ 10:34pm

      Re: 2% increase? noooooooo .....

      What public radio service is NOT on an impossibly tight margin?

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

    • identicon
      Bruce C., 10 Jan 2017 @ 7:03am

      Re: 2% increase? noooooooo .....

      Well, a 200% increase, anyway. 3% is 300% of 1%, but the increase is (3-1)/1=200%. It triples their royalty costs.

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

  • icon
    CanadianByChoice (profile), 9 Jan 2017 @ 9:08pm

    As to the AC's comment about "... collecting more in royalties is "bad . . . for artists...." - I don't see that anywhere in the article! However, in my opinion, increasing the royalties is likely neither good nor bad for the artist (at least, not for the vast majority of them) because I don't believe the artists will ever see a cent of the increase.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 10 Jan 2017 @ 1:28am

      Re:

      "I don't believe the artists will ever see a cent of the increase."

      As I mention above, I'm actually doubtful that a lot of these artists are even alive to receive the payments at all.

      This stinks of public domain content being restricted (or what should be public domain in my mind - I'm no expert of Bulgarian law). Music that can be accurately described as "mostly classical music, jazz and folklore" don't strike me as recent compositions. Recent recordings perhaps, but they're not exactly going to compete for listens with mainstream outlets.

      The local market could be very different, of course, but given that the outlet being attacked is public radio, I suspect they're just attacking the alternative outlets they haven't already fleeced when they've attacked the mainstream.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2017 @ 5:20am

    Sounds like a wonderful idea to me, let us ban all copyrighted material from the public airwaves. All sales of said materials should only be authorized for sale by the copyright holder, curtailing retail sales and all other forms of distribution.

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

  • identicon
    Music, 13 Feb 2017 @ 3:14am

    This is a great step towards protecting artists rights

    This is a very good news for artists. Bulgarian radio protecting the rights of artists. We should really appreciate this step. If you really want to listen music for free, you can get from legal music streaming applications like spotify. Of course there are several alternatives to it.

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

  • identicon
    setbeat apk, 1 Apr 2017 @ 3:15am

    download free music

    nice post admin. This is a great step by Bulgarian. I support them.

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


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