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Belgian Rightsholders Group Wants To Charge Libraries For Reading Books To Kids 244

New submitter BSAtHome writes "People with a healthy interest in fundamental freedoms and basic human rights have probably heard about SABAM, the Belgian collecting society for music royalties, which has become one of the global poster children for how outrageously out-of-touch-with-reality certain rightsholders groups appear to be. This morning, word got out in Belgian media that SABAM is spending time and resources to contact local libraries across the nation, warning them that they will start charging fees because the libraries engage volunteers to read books to kids. Volunteers. Who – again – read books to kids."
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Belgian Rightsholders Group Wants To Charge Libraries For Reading Books To Kids

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  • Crazy! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @02:57PM (#39390527)

    What's next, having to pay money to sing in the shower?

    • Re:Crazy! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:00PM (#39390553) Homepage Journal

      Yes, if anyone can hear you sing.

      • Re:Crazy! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:17PM (#39390665) Journal

        It's not if anyone CAN hear you sing.

        It's if anyone CAN POSSIBLY hear you sing.

        For example, if there is room in your bathroom for somebody else to stand, you would need to pay because you could possibly have a roommate standing there listening. And it's too much trouble to track whether or not somebody is there listening, it's just much easier copyright math to charge you assuming you are putting on a public performance.

      • Re:Crazy! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Sipper ( 462582 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:21PM (#39391031)

        Yes, if anyone can hear you sing.

        I wish it weren't true, but sadly it is. This is why in the U.S. when you are given a "birthday cake" by a restaraunt, the waitresses cannot sing the standard "happy birthday" song and instead have to make up their own tune and their own lyrics, which don't invoke the same feelings that the standard song would have if they were allowed to sing it. This is an area of copyrights that I find invasive and counterproducitve.

        • Re:Crazy! (Score:5, Informative)

          by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:28PM (#39391083)
          Slight correction: The *tune* is actually past copyright. They can use the tune if they want. The words were written some time later, to fit the pre-existing tune, and remain copyrighted. So they could sing something else to the tune of happy birthday.
          "Happy song-day to you,
          We wrote this for you.
          We'd sing you the real one,
          But it's copyright too."
          • by Sipper ( 462582 )

            Hahaha. Nice idea. Thanks for the information. :-)

          • Re:Crazy! (Score:5, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @08:08PM (#39392409)

            Unfortunately, now no one can sing that without violating your copyright. Oh, I see what you're trying to do. Get everyone to start singing your "Words" in place of the original, then, once everyone is used to singing it that way, you swoop in with your lawyers and begin collecting royalties. Sweet!

                  Step 1: Provide alternative lyrics for copyrighted Birthday song
                  Step 2: Tell people on Slashdot they should sing those lyrics instead
                  Step 3: Watch as the ever-so-influential Slashdotters spread the tradition far-and-wide in no time at all
                  Step 4: Lawyer Up
                  Step 5: Profit!

    • Re:Crazy! (Score:5, Informative)

      by sourcerror ( 1718066 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:00PM (#39390559)

      Didn't you get the memo? Even birdsongs are copyrighted.

    • Do your showers constitute public performances? If so, rightsholders want their cut.
    • Re:Crazy! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thomst ( 1640045 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:36PM (#39390753) Homepage

      Yes, it's crazy all right.

      These Belgian swine aren't legally permitted to charge children to BORROW these same books from the library and read them THEMSELVES, but they somehow have decided that they have the right to charge THE LIBRARY, if an adult reads them ALOUD to the same children?

      Apparently it takes a Belgian lintellectual property awyer to dumb down a village ...

      • Re:Crazy! (Score:5, Informative)

        by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:43PM (#39390793) Homepage

        These Belgian swine aren't legally permitted to charge children to BORROW these same books from the library and read them THEMSELVES

        I don't know about Belgium, but in many European countries libraries pay an annual fee to copyright holders to partly compensate them for perceived lost sales. Also, some European cities don't have the concept of free public libraries, and some kind of annual membership fee is required. Thus, even if the children aren't paying anything, their parents are.

        By the way, on Slashdot you can use the bold and italic HTML tags for the sake of emphasis, not need to write in caps which looks like SHOUTING.

        • Re:Crazy! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:30PM (#39391105)
          I like to use the *old* for emphesis. Not because it's any better, but because it's a throwback to a time when we didn't need any of these fancy typesetting things to convey tone. ASCII was good enough then, and (with the addition of a bit of unicode for non-english text and math) it's good enough now.
        • The topic of this story is so annoying I feel like it warrants USE OF BOTH

        • By the way, on Slashdot you can use the bold and italic HTML tags for the sake of emphasis, not need to write in caps which looks like SHOUTING.

          Maybe he wrote the subtitles [] for Beneath the Steel Sky.

    • Re:Crazy! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:30PM (#39391109) Journal

      What's next, having to pay money to sing in the shower?

      Well, if there is an audience, yes. And it is about time they started making these freeloading children pay their fair share for entertainment. The librarians can always pay for the royalties by simply speaking a commercial every chapter. That way kids can learn about other important thinks like Coke, and the new Barbie. /sarcasm

  • Outrageous (Score:5, Funny)

    by Vlaix ( 2567607 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @02:58PM (#39390533)
    And the kids should be charged with laziness. I mean, really, can't they read the books by themselves ? A generation of slackers, I call it.
    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      And the kids should be charged with laziness. I mean, really, can't they read the books by themselves ? A generation of slackers, I call it.

      If its like the UK library groups it will be someone reading things like "The Gruffalo" to three and four year olds.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @02:58PM (#39390541) Journal
    Psst. I heard this rumor that volunteers nurturing an enthusiasm for books in youngsters is what we call "free advertising" and "preserving the future of your market".

    I'd bet you a considerable sum of money that whatever you'll manage to wring out of volunteer reading groups at public libraries won't amount to 2/5ths fuck-all compared to the amount you'll lose because the larval Belgians are going to be growing up with fewer books and more of whatever other entertainment is available.

    There are times when being evil pays good money. This. Isn't. One. Of. Them. Dumbass.
  • Say What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Just Another Perl Ha ( 7483 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @02:59PM (#39390549) Journal

    I'm sorry... but these greedy fucking cunts need to be taken out back and horse-whipped!!!
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      Oops... sorry... my Texas was showing... :D
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by s-whs ( 959229 )

      I'm sorry... but these greedy fucking cunts need to be taken out back and horse-whipped!!!

      This shows the moderation system on slashdot just doesn't work in some cases. This is not flamebait, this is a realistic depiction of what justice is supposed to be in cases like this!

      Language might be a little unappropriate, but that's nothing when compared to the action of these sabam a-holes!

  • Once this gets into the mainstream media, there will be public outrage. If that doesn't top it, what will, after all SABAM will bribe all the people that make laws.
    • by Smallpond ( 221300 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:19PM (#39390673) Homepage Journal

      There's a $30 charge for outrage. Sony owns the rights to it at the moment.

    • Re:Public outrage. (Score:5, Informative)

      by CharlyFoxtrot ( 1607527 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @05:05PM (#39391347)

      It did. The story is about a week old. After it broke SABAM claimed that the library in question does pay about 250 EUR, but it isn't for reading books but for music played in the library. SABAM said that it does collect money for public readings of books but it's only 15 EUR and the book has to be in copyright and be written by one of their member. (Source, in dutch [].)

      All of this is BS of course these people try to collect on EVERYTHING and as much as possible. They're regularly collecting money for artists that aren't affiliated with them and tend to go after "soft" targets that don't have resources to fight back. They're scum.

      • Re:Public outrage. (Score:5, Informative)

        by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @06:00PM (#39391687) Journal
        Librarians are hardly a "soft target", they are well organised on a local, national, and international level, and have been successfully fighting censoring goverments and greedy publishers ever since they first opened their doors.
        • I keep reading stories like that from the US but have never heard anything similar out of belgium. Not to say it's maybe not the case but if it is I haven't heard of it. As for SABAM, I meant they often put individuals or small organisations in their sights. Youth parties, individual DJ's, bars. People who don't have the resources to get into a drawn out legal battle (in either time or money.)

  • by Scarletdown ( 886459 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:01PM (#39390569) Journal

    And Belgian librarians and the kids they read to all vehemently and with much venom curse... "Belgium!"

  • by CAPSLOCK2000 ( 27149 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:01PM (#39390571) Homepage

    I can't figure out if these people are stupid, incompetent or both. Is there any way in which they can make themselves seem any less sympathetic?

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:11PM (#39390639) Journal
      Its even stupider than that because (in addition to being wildly unsympathetic to just about any member of the public whose morality core hasn't been replaced by a board of directors) it appears to rest on the assumption that the demand for books is wholly inelastic and not at all governed by the production of new readers or competition from other sources of entertainment.

      Sure, maybe sometime before the advent of radio it was a trivial competition between 'reading' and 'backbreaking domestic drudgery' for the home entertainment market; but that hasn't been true for a while...
    • by Wildclaw ( 15718 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:14PM (#39390653)

      There is a simpler answer. They are psychopaths the whole bunch of them and simply don't understand such concepts.

    • Given that they're likely cooking their books to cover up bribery (RTA - all of it) I doubt they really care about seeming sympathetic. Bribe government officials to give them a club. Use club. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:18PM (#39390671)

      Is there any way in which they can make themselves seem any less sympathetic?

      They could do exactly what they're doing, except while wearing Nazi uniforms and kicking puppies. Maybe run over some grandmothers on the way to the press conference.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      SABAM has a weight of legislation that gives it authority to do this. It is not doing this especially for the benefit of the creators of the works but because they are licensed to. They have no qualms taking a fee from gig's where the band plays all their own songs! The band, I can assure you never sees the royalty.

      I understand that civil process takes a long time in Belgium. Not many people have the resources or patience to test them in a court of law. Hopefully idiotic activities like this report will con

      • They have no qualms taking a fee from gig's where the band plays all their own songs!

        How can the band be sure that it's playing its own songs and that the songs aren't accidentally plagiarized the way "My Sweet Lord" was plagiarized from "He's So Fine"?

    • As long as they pay off the right politicians and get money out of it they probably don't care about sympathy.
      I hope the public listens and asks candidates about their stance about copyright issues.

  • Does that include grannies teaching kids to read?

    • Actually, you owe your reading ability to the ancient Canaanites of the Middle east. You are backdated on royalty payments so I suggest you start coughing up like the rest of us law abiding citizens.

  • Books about waffles will be exempt.
    The Belgians love waffles!! -- John Oliver
  • Summary is incorrect (Score:5, Informative)

    by it0 ( 567968 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:10PM (#39390631)

    Fascinating the greed that impacts simple people every day live and to to what use?

    There is a communication on sabam's website to rectify the miscommunication that appeared in the media, they did not charge the library 250 euro, no it was only 239 euro's but for playing music in the library.

    For a public reading they would collect 15 euro's per public reading if the work is protected and the rightsholder is represented by sabam.
    Do not and did not collect this fee.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:12PM (#39390645)

    SABAM (the group in question) said, in a response, that it was a misunderstanding [] (translated, Dutch original []). They charge 15 euro per public reading, and they cannot distinguish between adults and children. They always have to charge (their words, not mine).

    For those of you wondering where the misunderstanding is: they invented a nice strawman for that, by saying that the library wasn't yet slapped with a yearly fee of about 250 euro. Which is true, that hadn't happened yet. But, from the sound of it, SABAM has every intention to do so.

    Thankfully, this hasn't gone unnoticed. SABAM is losing favour with politicians []. Hopefully this storm will go somewhere. Note that SABAM isn't the only rightsholder club in Belgium (there apparently is some competition! yay free market!), so dissolving them ought to be an option.

    • I don't care what the context is.

      Maybe Belgian society is different and while I've been contrarian on IP rights here, this is unfuckingacceptable. Period. If they took that 15â cost, and then donated it back, maybe. If its due to some EU IP thing.

      Otherwise SABAM should come out in public dressed up like a Tin tin villain.

      • Maybe Belgian society is different

        I think belgian society considers SABAM to be opportunistic sharks.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        It shouldn't matter. They ARE doing these things, they're just upset that they're not free to slap first and apologize later (if and only if they get caught by the public).

        They come out looking like the worst kind of scum in public because they ACT like the worst kind of scum in public. If you have a go around kicking puppies and stealing candy from babies it's only natural that people will think that's what you're up to even when you happen not to be for once.

  • They are horrible (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:19PM (#39390677)

    As a belgian I can only confirm that they are the most horrible kind of "rightsholder group" you can imagine. Some of their "royalties" include. An extra tax on every dataholder (empty CD's, hard drive's, memory cards, ipods, etc...), local bands have to pay a fee when they perform even when they only perform their own songs (because they are influenced by ...), they collect fee's from doctors waiting rooms, pubs, private parties, buses, even on the work-floor when there is music playing, ...

  • by whoop ( 194 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @03:37PM (#39390763) Homepage

    This is piracy, plain and simple. The publishers are losing millions, if not billions, because each kid now won't need to buy the book themselves. They need to multiply the cost of the book by the number of kids being read to, and add a half dozen zeroes to the end for good measure.

    Copyrights are to be taken very seriously, folks! This mass, rampant piracy needs to come to a close immediately so these poor, kind, destitute authors can get what is due to them.

  • Each one of those pirated book readings is costing $150,000 per child who attends. That must add up to $8 billion dollars in lost revenue per year. I'm surprised that the Belgium economy can survive. I suggest that we burn all the books to stop this insanity.
  • Or perhaps pull out their tongues. And don't forget to blind people who look at things.

  • What, they shouldn't be charged just because they're kids? Kids get charged for movie tickets and DVDs, don't they? Sometimes at a discount, sometimes not, but that's up to the rightsholder.

    If you believe that you can "own" information, this follows naturally.
    • I would love to hear Roald Dahl's opinion on this. I believe it would be particularly succinct given the nature of all his stories [recap: wicked adults torment innocent children in various ways]. Too bad he is dead...

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      Perhaps most people don't ACTUALLY believe in information ownership. Many are perfectly fine with the concept of a 'commercial copyright' where you must respect copyright when you engage in commerce, but very few believe that sharing with friends, volunteer or charity work in the public interest, and similar non-commercial pursuits should be included.

      People are somewhat split on the large scale file sharing. It's non-commercial, but a bit beyond the bounds of sharing amongst friends. Even there, I suspect m

  • Hi! Is it time to abolish copyright yet?
  • The Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by no-body ( 127863 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:29PM (#39391093)

    with all those sensational messages is that the individuals making the decisions are unknown. It's an organization of some kind with some capital letters as abbreviated name.

    Who are those persons?
    Spokesperson - Jerome Van Win - [] ??

    SABAM headquarters is located at 75-77 rue d'Arlon in Brussels

    Christophe DEPRETER has been the Managing Director of SABAM since 1 July 2009. [] []

    Carine Libert, Department of Legal Affairs and International Affairs []

    Luc Van Oycke, Director of Administration and Finance []

    Willy Heyns, Director of ICT []

    Jac Cuypers, COO []

    Serge Vloeberghs, Director of Sales []

    Sandrine Evenepoel, Director of Human Resources []

    E-mail : - yaaawn!

    Shame them!

  • it's technically correct, but who thought that anyone would push the point. It's a public performance, the author may be entitled to royalties, library or park bench or TV, that doesn't matter in the eyes of copy-write

  • Y'know, at some point, we're just going to have to say forget copyright altogether and go back to the simplicity of: you bought it and can do whatever the heck you want with it.
  • The law needs to be modified so that COPYRIGHT only controls the RIGHT to COPY the copyrighted material.

    Anything else you want to do with your LEGAL COPY of a copyrighted material should be unrestricted.

  • Once they nail libraries, they will try to charge book buyers based on how many people are in the family.

    Then they will put a little BT 4.0 ineractive lock on the book and charge you every time you open the cover.

    What happened to the concept of private ownership?

  • Won't somebody stop thinking of the children?

  • by Beelzebud ( 1361137 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @05:28PM (#39391505)
    You know damn well if we were trying to set up a public library system in America today, it would never be allowed. Corporate power doesn't give a shit about the culture of a nation, only the bottom line.
  • OK, that tears it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @08:46PM (#39392593)

    These people are just evil.

    Courts are there so that people do not resort to /other means/ for just ice.

    Bullying libraries and others because you're not making enough (in your twisted world) short term money (hey guys, teaching kids to love books and reading means you have future customers) means you are a leech on society and you should be removed. Permanently.

    I suggest it's time for /other means/


Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser