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Finnish Taxi Drivers Must Pay Music Royalties 588

Posted by chrisd
from the humming-also-billable dept.
jonerik writes "According to this story from Ananova, Finland's Supreme Court has ruled that taxi drivers must pay royalty fees of about $20 annually if they play music in their car while a customer is in the backseat. According to the article, 'Lauri Luotonen, chairman of the Helsinki Taxi Drivers' Association, says the ruling is likely to force most drivers to keep their radios off.'" This includes if they play the radio, which ostensibly already pays such fees.
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Finnish Taxi Drivers Must Pay Music Royalties

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  • by dextr0us (565556) <dextr0us.spl@at> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:00PM (#4806927) Homepage Journal
    Now, this just in. If you listen to music, while someone other than the person who bought the CD is in the room, you must pay $20 annually to RIAA.

    That is all.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:17PM (#4807060)
      Moderators, what the hell is so funny about that? This is in essence exactly what the Finnish Supreme Court decided, with the one provision that money is being made in the vicinity. There's no reason now the RIAA can't go after your office if you listen to the radio while you work, or hear the radio played by the coworker in the next cubicle.
      How the fuck did we get to a point where possibly the least important industry imaginable has such immense, outrageous, incomprehensible-to-our-ancestors influence and power?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:50PM (#4807627)
        How the fuck did we get to a point where possibly the least important industry imaginable has such immense, outrageous, incomprehensible-to-our-ancestors influence and power?

        Honestly? Corrupt politicians bowing before their music and movie industry masters in some of the most influential states of the union (New York, California, basically all liberal strongholds). Before the mid-1990s none of this was really an issue. Then along came the Internet and the RIAA and MPAA became household words. Seriously, did ANYONE know what the RIAA was before attacks against Napster? Did you ever worry when you were sitting in your room in the 1980s with your friends dubbing tapes on your tape-to-tape high speed dubbing recorder that you were STEALING from the RIAA.. err, the artists? Did you ever fear that thugs would be breaking down your door and carting away all your stereo equipment, or that you'd be dragged into court and brought up on charges? Where DID we go wrong allowing them to grab too much power? Frankly we should be demanding our legislators abolish copyrights altogether. The industries that benefit most from it have shown they will use every underhanded legal tactic to fuck over the consumer using an artificially conceived notion of "intellectual property".

    • by taugenix (602325)
      ...yeah, and soon you'll get charged for hearing the music blasting from the sub-woofer-on-wheels passing through your neighborhood! Time to get out the plugs and blinders!
    • by Blaede (266638) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:23PM (#4807099)
      Any business establishment that plays music (retail stores especially) in earshot of all customers must pay royalties (figure unknown to me). Not everyone pays, it mostly is enforced against large retail and department store chains. The upshot of the law is a clerk can have a small radio at their station, but if you broadcast music over the store speaker system, then you must pay.
      • by thoolie (442789)
        I had the horrible experience of working that the worste store on earth, and one day i came to work and the radio was off? I asked "WHY?". They said that the royalities were cutting into profit. They turned it on a month later due to lower moral, go figure?
      • by LX.onesizebigger (323649) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:20PM (#4807456) Homepage
        Why is it that so many comments bring up either the fact that the radio already pays royalties, so it's insane to force the cabbies to pay double taxes OR the fact that other businesses already pay royalties for having a radio? Shouldn't the real focus of the discussion be the question why anybody has to pay royalties for something that has already been paid for by the radio stations? That legislation was bad to begin with, partly because of the slippery slope risks of it, which are becoming very apparent now. Unfortunately, $20/year is a low fee on a per-fare basis, so I'm afraid most drivers and/or taxi companies will pay up, but I'd rather they didn't, because it is going to end up as an extra cost for the passenger, and I really don't want to pay any money for bad music, which is the only kind of music played on the radio anyway (if they are even playing any music - the last time I turned that hideous thing they were just advertising bad music) to some nauseatingly terrorist organization like the Recording Industry Army of America or their local cells.
      • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday December 04, 2002 @07:27AM (#4809079) Homepage
        LIE!!!!!

        Many businesses subscribe to what is called MUZAK a commercial background music service. They only pay for their subscription they do NOT pay royalties. Also companies can purchase a special business subscription to digital cable that carries 100 digital music channels to put on in their establishment.

        if for one second you think that every doctor,dentist,lawyer,accountant,store,elevator and resturant in america pay's royalties to the RIAA you are mistaken... they pay for a service from a company that pay's the royalties.

        And yes, if you want to you can put any broadcast radio station on in your establishment without paying the royalties as the RADIO STATION is "supposedly paying them" (although we know the bigger ones are getting payola to play the top 40 songs)

        now if you grab a bunch of CD's and start playing them for the customers... then you are gonna have to pay... but 95% of the stores and businesses just turn on the radio or their music subscription (that has no adverts in it)
  • Yowch. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Freston Youseff (628628) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:02PM (#4806933) Homepage Journal
    That's almost more outrageous than the tarrifs you have to pay when entering and exiting San Fransisco in a taxi. Sheesh!
  • What if... (Score:5, Funny)

    by crazyprogrammer (412543) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:02PM (#4806935) Homepage
    ...they sing to the customer in the backseat? Would they still have to pay royalty fees?

    • Re:What if... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ethanms (319039)
      unless the song is public domain... yes... they would have to pay licensing fees to use the lyrics.
    • by Tablizer (95088) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:08PM (#4806993) Homepage Journal
      What if they sing to the customer in the backseat?

      Oh great! Now we will have to pay them extra NOT to sing. Either way, the cost of taxi rides will go up.
      • "Oh great! Now we will have to pay them extra NOT to sing. Either way, the cost of taxi rides will go up."

        Sounds like some shit Verizon would pull.

        "To all Verizon customers: starting Jan 1, 2003, you will be charged a $10 monthly fee to not have your telephone ring 24 hours per day non-stop."

    • Probably (Score:2, Funny)

      by Vicegrip (82853)
      If you sing well, you'll only get sued by RIAA for stealing their copyrighted words.
      If you sing badly you'll still get sued by RIAA, but then your customer will probably sue you as well for emotional duress.
      Maybe if you just humm the music out-loud... no, thats probably patented somewhere.
    • If summer camps can get sued for the same thing, then why not? (Search for it -- it's happened.)
      • Re:What if... (Score:5, Informative)

        by kevcol (3467) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:59PM (#4807328) Homepage
        Wow- I was moderating but my jaw dropped when I read this and had to post:

        http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/c ommunications/ASCAP.html [umkc.edu]

        "They buy paper, twine and glue for their crafts - they can pay for the music, too," says John Lo Frumento, ASCAP's chief operating officer. If offenders keep singing without paying, he says, we will sue them if necessary."
        • Also from the article: An ASCAP spokesman says "Kumbaya" isn't on its list, but "God Bless America" is.

          You know, seeing the U.S. Congress struggle through a spontaneous rendition of 'God Bless America' on TV while downtown Manhattan went up in flames outside my window last September really disturbed me. the idea of ASCAP suing Congress for royalties actually gives me a strange sense of justice.
        • Re:What if... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by stratjakt (596332)
          The problem with that story is that it has crucial flaws that make me disbelieve the whole thing.

          To wit:

          "How about Ring Around the Rosie'?" another Elf asks. The directors veto it.

          Now, Ring Around the Rosie is a centuries old nursery rhyme that most know dates back to the time of the Black Death. I won't go into the details, but thats what it is about.

          It isn't copyrighted. And it taints the entire story with a dose of FUD. Or perhaps it's just satire.

          My daughter is a brownie. Her leaders know nothing at all about this supposed case.

          Does anyone have a reputable report of this?
          • Re:What if... (Score:3, Informative)

            by Maxwell_E (16977)
            As silly as it sounds, the report if sensationalized, is true. Well, true enough that ASCAP used to have a link on their website with some serious damage control and such.

            Note the date:

            http://www.ascap.com/press/ascap-082696.html
            I remember reading the spin doctor from ASCAP on it and their position pretty quickly backpedaled on it. A quick search on google turned up the above link as well as this discussion:
            http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/7397
          • Re:What if... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Permission Denied (551645) on Wednesday December 04, 2002 @12:59AM (#4807934) Journal
            Now, Ring Around the Rosie is a centuries old nursery rhyme that most know dates back to the time of the Black Death. I won't go into the details, but thats what it is about.

            I had never heard this before. To verify, I typed "ring around the rosie" into google, and this [ualberta.ca] is the first hit. here's [snopes.com] the third hit from snopes.com, an interesting website which I would be inclined to believe.

  • this is something that people _joke_ about please tell me this isn't for real?
    • Anytime you use music (that you don't own the rights to) in a business environment, you have to pay. This includes if you play the radio in a retail store or other business, or if you have music on hold, etc.

      This is because it's considered a public performance.

      In the US, most businesses are using music services like Muzak, AEI (now part of DMX) or others which include the royalty fees as part of their service fees.

      Should cab drivers be allowed to show movies in their cabs? What about a bar? If you think they should be allowed to without paying any royalties, then why shouldn't I be allowed to open my own second run movie house with a video projector and lots of DVDs?
      • by Bronster (13157) <slashdot@brong.net> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:59PM (#4807329) Homepage
        Should cab drivers be allowed to show movies in their cabs?

        This isn't the same thing. The question should read 'should cab drivers be allowed to show commercial TV in their cabs' - complete with all the commercials which are already being used to pay the fucking royalties on whatever is shown in the 'non-ad' breaks.

        If each person in the cab had their own radio set it wouldn't be a public performance, but because they're listening to exactly the same material from a shared speaker it becomes public. This is definitely the sort of reasoning of someone who can afford to buy their own congressman. Any sane person would throw it straight out.

        The radio station has already paid the right for a public performance, and anyone who wants to listen to that performance (and suffer the ads) should be free to do so.

  • at least this isn't in america... but what is this world coming to? What's with all these fee's tacked on to everything?!!

    One thing I've noticed is that a "$35/mo" cell phone plan isn't even questioned when the bill arrives for $40.83... That's $5.83 in taxes and fees! 17% taxes/fees... plus you pay a sales tax on the phone in most states... and an income tax on the money you used to buy the phone...

    At least in Sweden when you pay the 90% income tax up front you know you're getting hosed.
    • Yeah, and you cant even get cell fone plans that are cheaper then $35/mo. I dont need 4000 minutes a month, i cant even use up the $5 i pre-pay every 30 days when it expires.
      • you cant even get cell fone plans that are cheaper then $35/mo.

        Where I live the local telco put together their own PCS network and charges $19.99 a month for 2000 minutes and when leaving the service area, the roaming rates are very reasonable, much less than other nationwide providers.
    • by night_flyer (453866) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:23PM (#4807098) Homepage
      oh, but it is!

      Girls Scouts must pay to sing songs...

      "Starting this summer, the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers has informed camps nationwide that they must pay license fees to use any of the four million copyrighted songs written or published by Ascap's 68,000 members. Those who sing or play but don't pay, Ascap warns, may be violating the law."

      the story [s-t.com]

  • enforcement? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4xNO@SPAMsnkmail.com> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:03PM (#4806943) Homepage Journal
    How will the authorities know if the taxi driver had the radio turned on or off? Will they have a sting operation where an undercover officer hails a taxi, gets in, and then busts the the driver if they turn on the radio but haven't payed the fee?
    • Re:enforcement? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ethanms (319039) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:08PM (#4806987)
      tattlers built in and required to obtain a taxi license... chances are the companies would simply pay the $20/yr and then raise fares an unequal (most likely to their advantage) amount to offset it...

      Would you really notice an extra 25 cents average per fare? But if a cabbie gets 10-15 fares per day, and works 350 days/yr... over $900/yr =)
      • Re:enforcement? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bje2 (533276)
        ah, no, you wouldn't notice the extra 25 cents a share...but you know who would lose that money??? the cabbie, out of his tips...let's say my normal fare is $6.25, and i throw him $8, for a roughly 25% tip...well, if my fare is now $6.50, i'm still throwing him the $8...yeah, the fare just increased 25 cents, but is that really gonna increase the overall amount you pay? probably not...it's just more of the money will go to the company, and the driver will make less tips...
    • Billboards, my friend. Billboards. [slashdot.org]
    • I don't understand. Taxis charge for the travel, and if both parties agree to listen to a radio station, why do you have to pay anything besides the hearing of the ads?

      I mean, if both parties used Headsets, should they have to pay?

      This confirms me that sufficently advanced capitalisms are just systems to assign and protect the pie to whoever happens to be able to buy more law.

      Whah, I don't care, if their citizens tolerate this crap then it's fine for me.
    • Re:enforcement? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by antirename (556799) on Wednesday December 04, 2002 @01:36AM (#4808074)
      ASCAP uses "spies" to find this kind of thing. They literally pay people to go into bars/stores/restaurants etc. and listen for music. If they hear music, and you're not paying, you get a nasty letter from a lawyer. This happened to my favorite bar a while back (it was a hole in the wall, the patrons held an auction once a month to keep the lights on and the door open, lets put it that way... but we liked it. Dartboard, pool table, Guinness) I think we found out who the infiltrator was, but the legal threat and resultant bills were just another of the straws that broke the camel's back. Here's the kicker: they weren't pissed about the jukebox, and there wasn't a radio. Just a TV that was on when it was slow and the bartender was bored (although they would probably try to charge you for the customers hearing the background music on the car commercials). No, they were upset because there was a small, unknown, local startup band that did a gig in there. They did (what they thought) was an old Irish folk tune. Nope. That song was on the list, busted, if you don't want to fight us in court pay up. Fucking bastards. We couldn't afford to pay everyone that wanted a cut, it was sort of a bar that was just there for people that liked it and no one really wanted to change it; it was just one of those places that had been there forever. Done. Gone. Dead. Could the patrons afford to keep the landlord happy? Yeah. Could we keep the city off our back? Yeah again, did both for a while. Could we afford a lawyer to fight the recording industry over inadvertant infractions that we had no control over? NO. If you have live music, it seems, you have to know every song on the playlist, know who if anyone has the rights on it, and pay accordingly. If you don't know and you can't afford legal help, you can't have live music once they sic onto you. Then your establishment dies if that's what brings people in. A big FUCK YOU to the recording industry is in order here. And of course, no suggestions on what should be done to ASCAP infiltrators if their cover is blown, although I'm sure you can imagine some :)
  • pay up taco (Score:5, Funny)

    by yali (209015) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:04PM (#4806946)
    The slashdot editors owe me a buck for everybody that reads this comment.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      "The slashdot editors owe me a buck for everybody that reads this comment."

      bend over... ;)

      Winky added for the humor impaired.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Oh really? I thought your comment just worth 2c.

      • i have 802 comments (this one included) - that equals a total of $16.04...

        thats almost 13 shares of VA stock at the going rate...

        I want one share of VA stock for ever 10 comments I have on /.
    • The slashdot editors owe me a buck for everybody that reads this comment.

      More like Slashdot owes me $200 for every comment on the site as it is presumably protected by me, plus a buck per every 'Post Comment' page with a 'Comment' text box served, as it will most likely be used to copy comments presumably protected by me (again, that means all comments ever posted on Slashdot) for karma whoring purposes.

    • by Kris_J (10111) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:16PM (#4807431) Journal
      Just wait 'till I trademark a white pixel, then you're all in trouble.
  • Duh ... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:04PM (#4806947)
    Man, this is getting to a level of stupidity that makes me wonder if I should go back home to Pluto ...
  • I mean, is there a trust fund for starving Finnish Artists?

    This borders on the most absurd story I have ever heard.

    What about elevators? Is that a separate suit?
  • Or do music interests in Finland not care about their 'art' and only profit? Does anyone know how music in Finland is copyrighted with such vehemence? What's the deal?
  • Radio stations already pay a hefty fee so the music is free for everyone to hear. Maybe in the future when RIAA pays off congress i'll have to turn down the music in my "pimpin" car because someone might overhear it.
  • by very (241808)
    Well then they can ask the passenger if they want to listen to the radio, then charge them a minimal fee for the royalty. As long as it is REPORTED.
    or add 1 cent/passenger.
    That shouldn't be too expensive.

    But IMHO, it's ridiculous to impose this ordinance.
  • by radiumhahn (631215) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:06PM (#4806974)
    This is getting out of hand. Will someone please punish these people and send them to bed without their royalties?
  • by Hanzie (16075) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:06PM (#4806979)
    If you use copyrighted materials for public performance for benefit of the business, you have to pay extra.

    It's the same thing as running a TV or radio in the waiting room of a business. The business is getting a benefit from the music, so they have to pay a cut.

    There's also a group of old ladies who go to restraunts and pretend that one of them is having a birthday. If one of the employees sings "Happy Birthday" a copywrited song, they sue. This apparently keeps them in bingo money.

    I hate it too, but that's the law. If you don't like it, get filthy stinking rich, and buy new ones.
    • by malakai (136531) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:20PM (#4807460) Journal

      "As for the question whether an infringement has occurred when a private
      person uses the VTR to time-shift a program for a one-time noncommercial
      viewing, that question falls in the same category as the question
      whether infringement occurs when the waiters sing " Happy Birthday" at a
      patron's table, or when someone makes a photocopy of a New Yorker
      cartoon to put up on the refrigerator. What category is that? Questions
      that never need to be answered. If it did need to be answered, I
      believe the answer would be provided by the doctrine of de minimis non
      curat lex - the law does not concern itself with trifles - a doctrine
      that is of great importance to a proper understanding of the law of
      copyright."

      Pierre Leval, Nimmer Lecture: Fair Use Rescued, 44 UCLA L. Rev. 1449,
      1457 (1997).


      The law is not written in C. Unless you used the C to write a fuzzy logic processor and then used.... well never mind. It's not simply black and white. Remember that next time lament that all is lost.

      -malakai
    • >> It's the same thing as running a TV or radio in the waiting room of a business.

      I've noticed when I go to a bar/restaurant, the game is usually on the tube as usual, but the sound is off, closed captioning is on. I assumed this was because noone needs the chatter.

      The other day I happened to look closer at the TV. There's a little sign saying something like "This TV cannot be used with the sound on, due to public broadcasting restrictions", or some such.

      Can anyone clarify? I'm not talking about PPV events here, either, but the football game on fox sunday, etc.
      • by jgerman (106518) on Wednesday December 04, 2002 @01:26AM (#4808046)
        Yes, bars and restauraunts have to pay to have the sound on for certain events. I believe news and sports are exempt, but that may have changed since I first heard of this about two years ago, when my local bar began turning off the sound.


        It's a crock of shit in my opinion, and should be flagrantly ignored. Ever listened to the statement made at the end of an NFL game? It goes something like this Any re-broadcast, description or accounts of this event are prohibited without the express written consent of the NFL. Accounts? Descriptions? Every time I hear that I want to call the NFL commissioner and tell him to go fuck himself.


        This kind of crap is getting severely out of hand. It really makes me wonder what kind of souless retards we have working in management in these industries that think these things are a good idea.

  • Radio isn't free? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ekephart (256467) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:08PM (#4806989) Homepage
    I don't know how the airwaves work in Finland, but in the US I would assume that's why they are called public airwaves. The stations pay royalties and in turn collect advertising revenue. Whatever.

    Anyway does this apply to only music stations? What if they listen to the Finnish equivalent of NPR? Or the BBC?
  • If I am a cab driver in Finland and play a CD of music of my own composition, I would still be required to pay. They assume that *ALL* music is owned or otherwise *protected* by them.

    More proof that the RIAA is ripping off artists. When Napster was required to remove all songs under RIAA copyright, the RIAA was supposed to provide a list. They couldn't. IIRC, they just insisted that Napster should somehow *know* which ones were and which ones weren't.

    Perhaps this will be used as an argument for DRM, Hollings Style!

    • Theres roughly a 0.00003% chance of me getting into a taxi in finland and the driver playing a cd of his own band. Get real. You have a better chance of winning the powerball lottery. This is nothing more than a socialist government wanting a cut of something.

    • As fscking absurd as it is, if you did that you'd already be paying if you burnt your music on CD-Rs you bought here. The Finnish equivalent of RIAA gets a certain fee from each sale of a recordable media - CD-Rs, tapes, possibly even harddrives. Fortunately I don't know how big that percentage is - I'd probably go insane if I did... It really pisses me off since the money is supposed to go to Finnish artists (probably just the RIAA equivalent) to compensate for illegal copying of their works and I don't even listen to Finnish "artists" (yes the quotation marks imply what I think of 99.9% of Finnish music...)
  • for me, I drive a taxi thats not quite done.
  • Songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, responsible for such hits as "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock," are among the plaintiffs and were in the courtroom Monday. The song writing duo said illegal copying of music and movies was costing artists millions and would ultimately stifle creativity.

    Oh yeah, like anyone'd pay money for these songs otherwise... If anything, these guys are stifling the creativity of brand new artists by locking up the business of music in the name of the labels.
  • by vga_init (589198) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:14PM (#4807037) Journal
    While listening to the radio, the first thing you notice is the advertising. Advertising on the radio is really hefty (at least on the stations I listen to), and don't think the broadcasters aren't making a pretty penny off of it, a reasonable portion of which is being put towards paying royalties. Why? Because the broadcasters are playing the songs, so they're the one's who've got to pay the royalties.

    This makes me wonder how the taxi driver fits into this picture at all, economically speaking. Are the taxi drivers making money off of the radio? Do they charge people extra to listen to the radio? Do people frequent taxi services that play the radio more often than those who don't? Probably not, so why are they being forced to pay up? It just seems wrong.

  • My question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by matty619 (630957)
    is who do they pay these royalties to? Are they divided up equally among all artists? FUBAR -M@
    • Well, yes they get divided equally based on a Byzantine formula ensuring that (a) the label won't have to pay anyone anything because of the tiny fractions and (b) that the administrative fees and other overhead accumulated in simply processing the payment, keeping track, etc. results in a small charge against each artist's account - deducted from royalties due.
  • Phew! (Score:5, Funny)

    by rainmanjag (455094) <joshg AT myrealbox DOT com> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:15PM (#4807045) Homepage
    Phew... that's a load off my mind... cause I'm sure the RIAA or their equivalent in Finland (unlike cab drivers) are *really* hurting for money... and I hope this serves as a precedent for anybody that plays music in their workplace... because God forbid, when I go see my accountant, and he's got the radio playing in the background, that filthy pirate is stealing the fruits of hard labor by the record executives...

    -jag
  • This includes the radio too? If this were satellite radio (that requires a subscription) that would sort of make sense. (Note: I'm not saying I endorse it, I'm only saying it makes sense.) Open air radio, though, is paid for by listening to the ads. Unless Finnish Taxis have some magic radio-ad-filtering technology I don't know about, then a passenger listening to the radio is paying for it by listening to the ads.

  • by Sean Clifford (322444) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:21PM (#4807088) Journal
    Read the article, interesting take. Those crazy Finns and their free alternative operating systems and hitherto free music.

    Okay, say you're in a carpool to and fro work. Everyone chips in for gas and whatnot while you listen to your latest mix CD, you're travelling for business - but not as a business. Probably, no - you won't pay. But what about a business trip?

    But what if you're using a company car to go pick up Vinnie The Venture Capitalist at the airport and you play a mix of his favorite music. Do you have to pay then?

    What about a birthday party for little Alex? Do I have to pay for playing his favorite mp3 playlist over my home stereo?

  • by geekee (591277) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:22PM (#4807096)
    I believe they want to charge cab drivers because taxi services are businesses that make money. By playing the radio, you are "enhancing" the taxi ride experience, and the music industry thinks they should be compensated. I don't necessarily agree with this philosophy, so don't flame me please. Just thought I'd point out what the issue is really about.
    • by interiot (50685) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:04PM (#4807358) Homepage
      Other industries will soon start catching on. When customers get new Bose speakers, there will be a shrink-wrap license agreement that says they can't be used in a place of business or public setting, to do that, you'll need to buy the more expensive speakers. Also, people will have to start buying two different cost levels of bulbs (that don't differ at all in their construction or materials), one for the interior, and one for the exterior since that's a "public performance". Bulbs used on public monuments and skyscrapers will be at the very highest pricing tier.
    • by zurab (188064) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:29PM (#4807521)
      I believe they want to charge cab drivers because taxi services are businesses that make money. By playing the radio, you are "enhancing" the taxi ride experience, and the music industry thinks they should be compensated.

      But the reasoning is obviously flawed. I mean I am not sure what Finnish definition of business is but, my understanding is everything could be described as a business:

      - Driving your clients to lunch - you'd better turn that radio off or you'd be enhancing your clients' experience without paying to support those needy artists.

      - Any commercial use of a vehicle equipped with a radio and/or stereo systems - they could go after each commercially registered vehicle and force owners to pay royalties to starving artists; after all, they can't enhance their drivers' experience while doing their evil commercial money-making business activities without at least sharing their revenue with those on the verge of dying of starvation who created wonderful pieces of art.

      - Radios, CD players, etc. at workplace - obvious one, you make money, you allow your employees to enhance their experience while at it, pay up!

      - God forbid you are self-employed - then you are the definition of business; they'll create separate licensing plan for this case. I mean come on, how can self-employed people sit and listen to music without paying extra? Those pirates!

      Seriously now, I believe this copyright crap has gone way overboard long ago. I believe the original intent of COPY-right was to grant content creator a right to be a monopoly for creating *copies* of his/her creation. As copyright law is interpreted today in most places, the creator of content does not have ANY rights to his/her creations, rather these rights are in the hands of distributors and promoters.

      As a further blow to the original intent of copy-right, it is not about copies anymore. There are no copies of any content created in a taxi cab. If taxi drivers were recording songs and giving the tapes to their customers those morons would have a point. If taxi drivers were actively selling the said content they would have a point. Radio signal is available to public, and it is meant to be heard by public whether on or off private property. If they have an issue with the radio signal as a medium they should not sell to and allow radio stations to transmit their content.
    • My dad told me about a situation a long time ago, that kind of set a precedent.

      We were in this really old diner, and every booth had holes in the wall above the table. I asked my dad why that might be, and he said for the jukebox. He said that a long time ago every booth was wired for its own speaker, and had a coinbox - patrons could put in coins in the box, punch up a song, and the speaker delivered the music right to their table. They made a lot of money, so of course a lawsuit ensued.

      The restaurant owners wanted to keep the money, because they paid for the equipment to be installed in their restaurants. The record companies wanted the money because, without them, there would not have been any music to play. They reasoned, that the patrons were paying for the music, not the use of the music delivery system. Furthermore, the music brought in customers to the restaurant that it would not otherwise have had. Therefore, the restaurants owed them.

      Ultimately, the music companies won the lawsuits and the fancy jukeboxes were ripped out. Thus the holes in the wall above the table.

      FWIW, my dad said that the music companies (and later jukebox service vendors) were often run by organized crime. That was a long time ago.

  • by Malicious (567158)
    What happens to me, when my headphones are loud enough, that others on the Bus can hear it? Is that my fault, or the Transit company, for not telling me to turn it down?
  • Now imagine if the taxi driver is listening to Metallica...
  • Not that I'm not concerned for the social implications and rights and such, but:

    'Lauri Luotonen, chairman of the Helsinki Taxi Drivers' Association, says the ruling is likely to force most drivers to keep their radios off.'

    So, they can't afford $20 a year? I think the other part of this story is why do Finnish cab driver's make such a crappy salary?

    • It is another way of destroying your rights. If they make it 20 dollars it isn't too bad. But after you get used to the 20 dollars which isn't right, but you feel is worth it not to fight the fight, maybe you will get used to 30, 40, 50, 100, 1000 dollars a year.

      Even if it were 1 Penni, I would say no.

      --Joey
  • ... we, in America, are not the only ones with retarded monopoly-nurturing copyright laws. as King Tut said to Anna: "thank you, for humble validation". this is good. this is very good.

  • by BitHive (578094) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:30PM (#4807146) Homepage
    You rape record label!
  • by mangu (126918) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:34PM (#4807175)
    "Only Finland - superb, nay, sublime - in the jaws of peril - Finland shows what free men can do. The service rendered by Finland to mankind is magnificent. ... We cannot tell what the fate of Finland may be, but no more mournful spectacle could be presented to what is left to civilized mankind than that this splendid Northern race should be at last worn down and reduced to servitude worse than death by the dull brutish force of overwhelming numbers. If the light of freedom which still burns so brightly in the frozen North should be finally quenched, it might well herald a return to the Dark Ages, when every vestige of human progress during two thousand years would be engulfed."


    Winston Churchill: THE WAR SITUATION: HOUSE OF MANY MANSIONS, broadcast, London, January 20, 1940


    So, here we are back at the Dark Ages!

  • If you play music at your place of business you pay for the license anyways, so why should a taxi be any different?
  • by cranos (592602) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:35PM (#4807179) Homepage Journal
    The UN has just welcomed its newest member, the Recording Industry Assosciation (formerly known as Finland). The RIA spokesman stated "We are so glad to be here, and by the way we have evidence that Saddam Hussien is illegally listening to Britney Spears in his bath tub and as such have ordered a preemptive first strike".

  • A limo is a kind of a taxi, right Robin? Do limo drivers in Finland have to pay this also??
  • The article also says "Recently, two Finnish churches refused to pay royalties to the country's copyright society for the performance of Christmas hymns. The congregations won their case in a district court, but the society has appealed.".

    Surely most hymns are written by long dead classical composers, so any copyright would have expired?

    I know this wasn't the /. story, but is was in the article and is just as much an issue.
    • by victim (30647) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:20PM (#4807458)
      I had to destroy a recording of Handel's Messiah. I handled the recording and also played in the bass section. Our orchestra scores were clear, but the choir sung from sheets that were "arranged" after the end of copy rights, 1922.

      Go to the Harry Fox Agency and you will find dozens of people claiming copyright on Handel's Messiah one way or another.

      It was for a small run, fund raising CD and the licensing hassles outweighed the benefits so we destroyed the recording. Still its great fun to perform it. If anyone asks you, you should accept.

      Hymns have similar problems. You need to work from a pre-1922 hymnal to be clear, but you can't buy those.

      I have a similar problem with traditional folk music. Everyone and their dog that ever published an album for a label with a traditional song claims ownership. I have to find documentation that the song predates 1922 to use it royalty free.
  • From the end of the article:

    Recently, two Finnish churches refused to pay royalties to the country's copyright society for the performance of Christmas hymns. The congregations won their case in a district court, but the society has appealed.

    They never let poor Rudolph

    (Rudolph)
    Play in any reindeer games
    (like Monopoly)
    OOps... must pay Milton Bradley $30,000 for the right to say "Monopoly".
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:41PM (#4807212) Homepage
    When commercial radio plays, the radio station usually pays whatever fees are associated with the music they are playing. Those fees are often paid by the sponsors who also have their advertisements played on those same airwaves.

    The fees are already paid whether or not someone listens to it. This is double taxation... paying for something that has already been paid for. What kind of moronic nonsense is this?
  • by rnturn (11092) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:02PM (#4807344)

    So the Finns think they can just make ridiculous legal decisions like this and get away with it? Only the U.S. court system is allowed to make rulings as cockeyed as this. What is going to happen when just any old roomful of judges can sit down and issue rulings as hilarious as this one? Why it's just not right I tell you! Here's hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't let this one slip by and gets in touch with the folks at The Hague, ASAP. I mean, after all, this is a matter of national pride.

  • by Newer Guy (520108) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:16PM (#4807429)
    Here in the USA the copyright laws regarding the radio are quite a bit more liberal. They state that you may play a radio in your place of business without paying a royalty if the radio is: "self contained and unmodified". In other words, it must be a standard radio without extension speakers such as a boom box that uses it's own internal speakers. I would assume that a factory installed car radio would also qualify though an aftermarket one would probably fall into a gray area. The court case (what else?) that decided this is known as the "Gap" case, after the clothing chain of the same name. They had installed component stereos with multiple speakers in all their stores and got pinched for playing the radio through them. They were found liable because they were using multiple extension speakers. These days, many retail establishments and restaurants don't play the radio. Instead they sign up for a service such as Digital Music Express (DMXmusic.com)that pay blanklet rates to Ascap, BIM and Sesac. A side to this story is that yesterday two commonly owned radio stations in Pittsburgh got pinched for infringing on Sesac's copyright to the tune of 1.5 million dollars.
  • by zentec (204030) <zentecNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:19PM (#4807453)

    This logic already exists in the US, but it's not the territory of the RIAA, it's the territory of ASCAP/BMI.

    This is the toll-master of the music publishing business. Whenever a song by the artist formerly known as Prince (but now again known as Prince) has a song played, he gets a clink in the bank. If Tom Jones remakes another one of his songs (God please no), then Prince gets more money as his music is published through ASCAP/BMI.

    ASCAP/BMI assures that those who write music are paid for it when it is used, regardless who sings it. It's actually not a bad system because it assures that song writers like Burt Bacharach keep churning out music, and bad singers keep recording them.

    Where it goes horribly wrong is that the record companies themselves seem to be pretty much exempt from the ASCAP/BMI fees. ASCAP/BMI seems to concentrate on radio stations, the music-on-hold for businesses, bars, Muzak and now, Finish taxicabs.

    Now and again, when you walk into a dance club or bar, you'll see a yellow sticker proudly displayed with the letters ASCAP. It means that this bar owner actually paid his yearly fees.

  • The ratchet effect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gameboy70 (187370) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:33PM (#4807536)
    Most cab drivers play the radio for their pleasure, not the passenger's. I can't remember the last time a driver asked me what I'd like to hear; and their tastes always differ from mine. So we already know that they aren't "adding value" to their facilities.

    Intellectual property is self-maximizing: if something can be charged for, it will be charged for; and property holders will always seek out more opportunities for extortion (e.g., Licensing 6).

    What the media cartels are trying to do here is look for every venue where licensing could conceivably apply, regardless of how absurd. Cafés, I'm sure, will be next (Starbucks already licenses the tracks on their playlists, then redistribute/resell them as compilations; other coffeehouses subscribe to satellite radio. The way I see it, every place of business that plays something other than Muzak will be charged for the privilege of advertising the cartel's content.
  • Whats worse (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Transcendent (204992) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:58PM (#4807655)
    is if they start a royalty rate for all people present in the car during a car pool. Everytime you buy a CD, you must fill out a form stating how many friends you have and how often they drive with you while listening to music. ...RIAA is just getting out of hand... when is someone going to stop them??
  • by zenyu (248067) on Wednesday December 04, 2002 @12:12AM (#4807719)
    I always hate having to ask the cabbie to turn off the damn radio. I feel bad because I've already asked him to get off the cell phone, and I'm lowering the tip by a dollar for every request I'm forced to make. This makes absolutely no sense since the radio is obviously only for the drivers benefit, it being in the front of the cab after all. I could see some people paying an extra 25 cents for turning on a back seat radio, but the cabbie's radio is just a nuisance for the rider.
  • by Snaller (147050) on Wednesday December 04, 2002 @01:03AM (#4807955) Journal
    ... and if you quote me, that's $5 a quote.
  • by Loki_1929 (550940) on Wednesday December 04, 2002 @01:21AM (#4808027) Journal
    Don't worry, folks. I'm in the process of securing trademarks for "Copyright" and "Trademark" .. and the patent office is about to approve my requests for patents on "method for obtaining compensation for others' transgressions" (lawsuits), and "method for securing rights of use for a model, practice, or invention" (obtaining patents).

    By mid 2003, I'll be ready to sue the bejesus out of the RIAA and MPAA and any other abusive company that's been pissing us off along the way. On that note, any /.-reading lawyers wanna get rich with me?

  • by mkv (174769) on Wednesday December 04, 2002 @06:41AM (#4808988) Homepage
    You should know that here in Finland, we pay royalties in every cd-r, dvd-r (and other format medias), video cassette or whatever media we buy. Yes, if your company provides you with a signed certificate saying that you are going to use the media you buy for storing only work-related material, you get a discount but still the system sucks. Teosto, our trustee for supervising the interests of artists, is trying to get this royalty for hard disks also. Also, if you broadcast music legally via radio and stream your broadcast via internet also, you have to pay a "media conversion fee" of some sort.
  • Maybe (Score:3, Funny)

    by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday December 04, 2002 @08:06AM (#4809153) Homepage
    Maybe I need to pay a fee if I sing a song while walking down the street. (``demand payments for any public performance of copyrighted material'')

    Maybe I should invoice the song writer for promoting the meme that is his song.

    Maybe I could point this out to the next obnoxious git that sits next to me on a train with a zzz zzzz zzzzz coming out of his walkman -- peace at last.

    Maybe this isn't in the long term interest of the song writers. If guides/scouts don't sing the songs, then the kids won't learn them but will learn other ones. These are the ones that they will remember in later life and want to buy the records/....

    Maybe we ought to organise a public rally/demonstration ... and be sued for siging Bob Dylan songs.

    Maybe we ought to write Open songs and publicise them.

    Maybe we ought to get RMS to write the GNU Public Song Licence.

    Maybe this could lead to a resurgance in classical music, most of which is out of copyright. There are performers who allow their interpretation to be played without fee.

    Maybe cab drivers should include a 'hire of radio' as part of their fee. It is then up to the passenger to choose to play the radio that is (for a few minutes) theirs.

    Maybe cab drivers should invoice the local radio station for increasing their audience figures and thus what they can charge their advertisers.

    Maybe this sort of thing is a good thing. People will become so fed up with it that the politicians will see lost votes in it.

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