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Summary:

Belgian music rights holders want local ISPs to pay 3.4 percent of their subscriber revenue to compensate for music piracy committed by their customers. Those customers, however, could still be sued for file sharing, even after their ISPs paid for it.

pile of money

Remember those plans to legalize music file sharing in exchange for a flat monthly fee? Belgian music rights group Sabam now has its own unique take on these kinds of alternative compensation schemes: It wants ISPs to pay for the music their customers trade — but still keep file sharing illegal.

TorrentFreak reported Thursday morning that Sabam wants Belgian ISPs to pay 3.4 percent of their subscribers’ monthly fees.

From the story:

“Sabam base their claim on a provision in the Copyright Act of 1994, which states that authors should be paid for any ‘public broadcast’ of a song. According to Sabam, downloads and streams on the Internet are such public broadcasts, and they are therefore entitled to proper compensation. This 3.4 percent share is the same amount as the copyright fees on cable television.”

The flip side of Sabam’s demands is that this levy is only meant to compensate rights holders for the ISP’s use of the music and not for the actual behavior of its customers. In other words: File traders would still break the law, even if their swapping was covered by a public performance fee like the one proposed by Sabam.

That may sound crazy, but it actually has more to do with the complexities of music licensing than Sabam’s current plans. The group only represents authors, composers and publishers, and it administers rights to the composition of the songs in its catalog. The actual recordings are owned by record companies, which aren’t compensated through this plan.

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  1. This could get awesome.

    Belgium should do this, and legalize piracy.

    Here’s what’s going to happen:

    A little country in Europe, for example Belgium, is going to be first at “legalizing piracy”, effectively adding a little tax that everyone has to pay at the ISP.

    Second step, freedom! We’ll all be able to download all the movies, music, apps we want, unlimited, legally. BitTorrent, whatever. Google can even start streaming the whole thing legally on YouTube and Google Music, without asking any rights holders about any of it first.

    Third step, artists, authors, programmers, actually get paid much more than they are today! They get extremely happy suddenly. It’s easy to measure popularity of all the files, very precisely actually. Big share of users voluntarily can install snooping software for giving precise usage measurements and server logs and analytics from Google and others can provide very precise stat and compensate artists, authors, programmers accordingly.

    Fourth step, every other country in the world copies the model because they’ll immediately see it works awesomely.

    Fifth step, record labels, movie studios, tv networks, publishers, newspapers, anti-competitive proprietary software companies, all go out of business and good riddance.

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