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.