Companies to pay for employees’ (already paid for) music

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Judge J.H. Huijzer has ordered in what must be one of the silliest court findings of recent times that companies whose employees bring iPods to work, must pay copyright collectives for the music.

In practice that means you’re going to pay several times for the music you listen to. Imagine you’re listening to the radio on your Digital Audio Player. First, the radio station had to pay for buying the medium. Then they have to pay for broadcasting the song. If they burn a back-up to CD, they have to pay for that too. If you bought your DAP in Germany you paid a copyright fee on the hard disk, and now when you listen to the radio at work your boss has to cough up some extra cash.

I wonder why people download their music so often instead of buying the CD. Hm…

The court’s very tortuous reasoning goes like this (Dutch):

4.3. The judge finds that the mere fact that employees are allowed to listen to music during working hours, even on an iPod or mobile phone, means that Suplacon [the defendant – Branko] has an interest in its employees listening to music. After all, happy employees work harder. This means that publication of music as defined in article 12 of the Auteurswet has taken place.

(The Dutch copyright law, Auteurswet, distinguishes between publication and copying, both acts forbidden by the law unless you have the author’s permission or unless you cross the palm of copyright collectives with some silver.)

BUMA, the rights organisation that brought the case, says (Dutch): don’t cry, the judge did not mean it like that, and we’re not going to collect money from companies where employees listen to their iPods. If the judge didn’t mean it like that, then why did he say it like that?

I imagine the next Eddy Murphy movie to be called The Nutty Judge, based on true events. Eddy, let your people call my people, I can have this peach of a script ready in no-time. All I ask is that you pay me upfront, and then when the movie is shown in theaters, and then when it is brought out on DVD, and then just because I feel like it, and then when it’s a Monday, and then when I see three pigeons in a day, and so on and on and on and on.

Via Iusmentis (Dutch) and others. Photo: Universal.

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