Musician ‘fined’ by social networking site, possibly for faulty grammar

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An unnamed musician got fined recently by a social networking site (Muzikanten-in-jouw-stad, Musicians in your city) after she had aborted the registration process, according to a report by Volkskrant blogger Satuka. Though the site’s administrators would not tell the musician what the fine was for, they did present her with a list of finable offenses, among which:

  • Posting meaningless texts and random characters
  • Using bad grammar
  • Using something other than the local language

Muzikanten-in-jouw-stad presents itself as the online meeting place for local musicians, but Satuka’s blog entry suggests it’s mostly a place for extracting hard-earned cash from those unlucky enough to register. Last week she wrote that a friend was fined 10 euro after not finishing her registration. The friend had gotten tired of the large number of obligatory fields on the sign-up form, and had started to enter non-sensical texts. When the site told her—still during the “free” sign-up process—to call an 0900 number and record some demo music for the mere sum of 40 euro, the friend decided to abort.

As a result she received an e-mail “a little while later” (Satuka’s entry is nothing if not vague), which claimed that she had violated the site’s General Terms & Conditions and that she therefore had to pay a ten 10 fine.

Law blogger Arnoud Engelfriet has this to say about this case:

  • You should send a reminder before you fine people, not during,
  • If you want to fine people you should not leave any mention of fines out of the T&C, and
  • The T&C are invalid in their entirety because they are presented in a pop-up window without the possibility of saving the T&C to a local medium.

I’d like to add that the musician never finished the registration process, so you have to wonder what legal obligations she has towards the site. I’d guess none, but IANAL. Also, I was told by reputable legal scholars that only courts can impose fines. Engelfriet suggests Satuka’s friend tell the networking blog to take a long walk off a short pier, though in politer and legally binding terms.

Today’s special rich creamy irony sauce: the letter that claims the social networking site can fine you for bad grammar is full of, yes, you guessed right, examples.

(Photo by Tomascastelazo, some rights reserved.)

2 Comments »

  1. Nice piece. Still wondering if this site is the only one imposing fines or whether more sites are using this.

    I would expect it erodes your userbase. Nevertheless, there seem to be lots of positive comments to the site in question. Probably they finished the registration withou problems.

    What I do not understand is the meaning of the fine. If somebody drops out of you registration process I would start looking for the resaons behind it and improve the registration.

    The greatest benefit of a great registration process is more people becoming a registered member. Currently, people are falling out of the registration and subsequently convinced to never come back again. It is a one shot only registration process.

    Comment by Erik — November 11, 2008 @ 11:06 am

  2. Yes I know too many of these websites created to “help” artists (musicians, DJs, you name it) that at the end are obviously more busy milking the star wannabees than offering any real help.
    Last shock: to be able to sing for free at the Midem, you have to pay a registration fee of 1400 euros. Of course, honey…
    Before it was the music industry that exploited artists, now it’s internet websites that “help” them.

    Comment by Laurent — November 12, 2008 @ 12:48 pm

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