Taxed for listening to the radio

January 27, 2010 By: erik Category: Complaining, News, Spain 214 views

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thumbThere’s a big hubbub lately in Spain because the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE), the Spanish equivalent of the RIAA, are beginning to enforce a silly law that has existed for a while: that it’s illegal to play the radio in a hair salon without paying royalties for the songs. Not CDs, THE RADIO!! This is quite possibly the most ridiculous Intellectual Property argument I’ve heard, and there are some doozies!

The radio station is already paying for the rights to broadcast the music. And any one barber shop client is allowed to have a personal radio with them to receive and consume the broadcast. But when a business plays the radio for their clients – music that has already been paid for and that the clients are legally allowed to consume – the business owner is breaking the law? C’mon! Really?

The SGAE is charging the hair salons (and all businesses, I suppose) 70€/year to have a radio playing. Ludicrous!

This is the same organization that has already placed a tax on blank media (cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, etc.) with the logic that they will surely be used to violate artists’ intellectual property rights, so the artists deserve some money from the blank media purchase.

  • sick

  • Why is anyone listening to music on the radio?

    • The radio is very easy for those who are too lazy to pick out their own music.

      • Sorry – what I meant is that I don’t recall when I’ve been in a commercial establishment where the ambient lazy music wasn’t a satellite or internet feed. (Conclusion based on not hearing commercials or promo spots.) I’m guessing it’s mostly satellite, which means shop owners are paying licensing fees through Sirius or Muzak or whoever.

        • I don’t know of anyone using satellite radio in Europe. Maybe the market hasn’t been there to pay for a geosynchronous satellite.

          What mainly gets my goat about this law is that all the customers could have a 5€ mini radio in their pocket and be listening to the same music and suffering through the same commercials (which is how they are paying the artists) that they are in the place of business. But no, SGAE wants more.

    • Because iheartmusic doesn’t work in Spain

      • Ray Tibbitts

        I meant iheartradio

        • Ray Tibbitts

          And spotify costs 120 a year (I’d rather have commercials)

  • The SGAE is just doing its job. That law sounds pretty dumb, though. Maybe Spain needs a better Cortes.

    • And guess which organization lobbied to get such a stupid law passed?

      • Wikipedia says that the SGAE is like ASCAP, which is a little different than the RIAA in that its intended beneficiaries are artists and composers. I don’t think that the SGAE is to be faulted for seeking enforcement of laws that bring money into performers’ pockets, or for lobbying in favor of laws that make its members’ properties more valuable. These are probably central to its mission. This particular initiative seems stupid and short-sighted. But you kind of have to plan for special interests to be stupid and short-sighted. It’s the role of the legislature to be less stupid and less short-sighted, and it sounds like they blew it.

        I’m not just trying to pick a fight. (I do that plenty on sites like this, so anyone could be forgiven for accusing me here.) I totally agree that requiring hair salons to pay 70€/year to have a radio playing is ludicrous.

        I just don’t think it fair to bust on a corporate entity for pursuing its self interest within the bounds set by law. Corporations (and groups like ASCAP) are just money making machines – you wind them up and let them go. If the law lets them go too far, then it’s the law that needs to be changed. I may be a bit sensitive about this after Citizens United, which seems to me to be a failure of government to make (or sustain) such a change.

  • uncle Neil

    Everybody should just cut their own hair. It is easy. Just chop or buzz it off. I’m certainly not going to drive my truck 354 kilometers to a hair salon. Most people in the world listen to radio if anything. Very few people have access to other sources and it is not because they are lazy.