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German Kindergartens Ordered To Pay Copyright For Songs 291

Posted by samzenpus
from the easy-as-taking-music-from-a-baby dept.
BBird writes "Deutsche Welle reports: 'Up until this year, preschools could teach and produce any kind of song they wanted. But now they have to pay for a license if they want children to sing certain songs. A tightening of copyright rules means kindergartens now have to pay fees to Germany's music licensing agency, GEMA, to use songs that they reproduce and perform. The organization has begun notifying creches and other daycare facilities that if they reproduce music to be sung or performed, they must pay for a license.'"

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German Kindergartens Ordered To Pay Copyright For Songs

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  • this is not idle. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @01:57PM (#34700870) Homepage Journal
    this is the apex of copyright bullshit, and it is a serious issue. "humming a song ? you need to pay us !"
    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:00PM (#34700910) Journal

      UNtil the citizens of each and every country make their vote contingent on putting the recording industry back in its place via new laws, this crap will continue to happen.

      What I'm sure will happen in the meantime is one of those crappy little solutions where the German government calls in recording industry executives, hashes out some little exception for children six years and under, and everyone walks away feeling really good about themselves.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:05PM (#34700978)

        The answer is not new laws, it is fewer. Copyright should be scaled back and the state should get out of the business of helping to collect licensing fees (and should use existing anti-cartel laws to prevent companies from banding together to collect royalties). If recording company A wants money from 4 year-olds for singing a song they should have to sue to school and take all the bad press that comes along with their actions. Fear of a competitor gaining an advantage this way would stop the the most ridiculous suits then.

        • Re:this is not idle. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @03:59PM (#34702558)
          Do realize that this is not the recording company or one of their groups. This is the equivalent of the US ASCAP; it is a song writers / composers association and collects performance fees from people performing those copyrighted words / compositions. Should they curtail their greediness? Absolutely. Should they be going after schools? Hell no. In the US, should restaurant staff be able to sing "Happy Birthday" without some jack ass coming out of the woodwork asking for money? Damn right. But, it isn't correct to conflate groups like ASCAP and GEMA with the RIAA.
      • by Dunbal (464142) *

        Excuse me while I laugh at your continued belief in a democratic system that was subverted a long, long time ago by : Money.

        Yeah, uh, "voting" is going to fix things. Here's a song for ya: "Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss". Oh and to the RIAA - bite me.

      • Oh, won't someone think of the seven year olds!

    • by zn0k (1082797) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:06PM (#34700998)

      Well, humming doesn't require paying. Neither does singing.
      Reproducing sheet music does.
      > The new rules came into power at the beginning of this year, but have only recently drawn attention as daycare centers have received letters reminding them that they need to sign contracts with GEMA before distributing sheet music to children to sing.

      > If copies of music are made, the fee needs to be paid.
      > GEMA said that the need for licenses would not have any effect on singing in kindergartens.
      > "It doesn't cost anything to sing in kindergartens," said Peter Hempel. "If a school does not make any copies of music, then of course they don't need to pay anything."

      While GEMA is bullshit, much like the RIAA, photocopying sheet music is a far cry from kids singing a song.

      • All the same, why target the education system? I guess it was the same for me in band class as we all had unique copies of sheet music. I guess it keeps it cheap for the average consumer, like some dude in his garage who plays sax.
      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        Sounds like the German's don't have fair-use exceptions for schools.

        From Fair Use and Copyright for Teachers [earthlink.net]:

        Fair use explicitly allows use of copyrighted materials for educational purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Rather than listing exact limits of fair use, copyright law provides four standards for determination of the fair use exemption:

      • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki&gmail,com> on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @04:28PM (#34702882) Homepage

        Fucking people over with 'sheet music' is the biggest pile of bullshit you'd ever believe. Here in Canadaland, our city orchestra's regularly get screwed over by it.

        Hey what's a mere 10k-20k to allow performances? On songs that were made 250 years ago.

    • While I agree that GEMA is going over the top by sending letters to kindergartens, there's a world of difference between humming a song to yourself and performing (in public) or reproducing a song (copying a recording of a song or copying the sheet music of a song).

      • by jc42 (318812)

        ... there's a world of difference between humming a song to yourself and performing (in public) ...

        Ah, but the kids aren't likely to be humming the songs to themselves. They'll be singing the songs loudly (and out of tune) in a very public setting (the school room). It was only a matter of time before the publishing and recording industries began to "think of the children", and classify this situation as a public performance. A few years ago, we were laughing at the suggestion that such things would eventually become illegal unless the people involved have paid for a license. Now it's "eventually",

        • by zn0k (1082797)

          Performance is free. Only reproducing sheet music (and, I guess, copying tapes or CDs) is not.

    • by MrLint (519792)

      No, I have to disagree. The apex is really one of the things we learned from Wikileaks. The big media companies are misusing the diplomatic weight of the american people to try to force other countries (Spain), to accept the corporate written copyright laws. And at the same time, the govt is hiding this from the citizens it claims to be doing diplomacy on their behalf.

    • by Q-Hack! (37846) *

      Actually, I do consider this in the idle category... Or at least in the non-news category. There is plenty of music available for kindergarten kids to sing that isn't copyrighted. Ok, so they can't sing the latest song by a current artist. Oh-Well. A good teacher will not rely on what is current or popular and still be able to provide an outstanding education.

      • by eyrieowl (881195)

        Yes, like those recent tunes, "This Land Is Your Land", or from any Disney movie or any Broadway musical or any of those other songs that kids sometimes sing in school. You're right. We shouldn't rely on the latest songs by current artists like Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Peter Paul & Mary, Judy Garland, or any of those other faddish folk.

        Of *course* you can still provide an excellent education without those songs, but if your school doesn't have lots of money to spend on copyrighted music (which few

    • this is the apex of copyright bullshit...

      I think "nadir" is the word you're looking for here.

  • Pay up, you little bastards.
  • Dear GEMA, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @01:59PM (#34700884)
    Go fuck yourselves. Sincerely, The World
    • Sad thing is, it's more like "Dear Gema, please teach us your ways. Eternally Grateful, the World"
    • Re:Dear GEMA, (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:06PM (#34700992)

      Yes, how about you all fuck off and die, the world would be a better place.

      No, really, it would, how the fuck do these people sleep at night?

      • by Xyrus (755017)

        No, really, it would, how the fuck do these people sleep at night?

        Hellspawn need no sleep. At best they need a little rest, usually in a warm bath of blood from babies, kittens, and puppies.

    • Go fuck yourselves.

      Sincerely,
      The World

      Hey, that happens to be the name of my newest song. Please send me my copyright fees.

    • by sorak (246725)

      Go fuck yourselves.

      Sincerely,
      The World

      Go fuck yourselves is a registered trademark of the world. If you use this phrase, we will sue your ass into oblivion. If your kindergarten-aged children use it, we will laugh and move on...We have some standards, and suing children falls below them.

  • Go along with it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheL0ser (1955440) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:00PM (#34700920)
    The schools should go along with it. Make the parents send money with their kid every time they're going to sing in class. Charge admission to recitals to make it clear that you have to pay for licensing to hear your kid sing. In fact, make the kids hand the money over themselves, and tell them that every time they want to sing something they have to give money away. Maybe if it gets ridiculous enough people will notice.
  • German Kindergartens told to pay copyright fees for every song, regardless of copyright status or ownership. Failure to do so will be fined on a level that makes stealing Humvees look cheap.

    • Failure to do so will be fined on a level that makes stealing Humvees look cheap*.

      * which costs $243.85 btw.

  • Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mseeger (40923) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:03PM (#34700950)

    I have to confess, i am very happy about this. This created a lot of waves and even the most conservative media outlets reported very critical about it. I think the copyright mafia used this time a shotgun for volley fire into their own feet. Though i am sorry for the kids, i am thankful for the allies this generated. The evil demasked itself...

    CU, Martin

    • I helps to show how viscous those "pirates" who abuse copyright really are. Now that people might realize that pre-school children are being labelled pirates, people might start to think that the RIAA and friends (GEMA, CIRA, etc.) are really mobsters. Though a fresh case of the industry screwing the actual artists would help too. Maybe screwing over the now ancient Tina Turner [wikipedia.org] or Leonard Cohen [leonardcohen.com] out of their royalties. Hopefully they go after unlicensed performances of music at senior centres next.

      • I have to agree with the part about kindergarten kids being viscous. Have you ever tried to force a group of them through a narrow doorway?
      • 'I helps to show how viscous those "pirates" who abuse copyright really are'

        Pirates are pretty gooey. They ooze right through the cracks in the legal system.

    • Strip-search machines got a lot press too. So they bought more machines and added punitive groping for opt-outs.
  • by ephraimX (556000) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:06PM (#34701000)
    Note that this only applies to making copies of sheet music, not merely singing the songs (or arranging, or performing, or anything else). Same sort of thing is in effect here in Canada, and I'm sure many other places. Not a wonderful policy, but not the culture-destroying terror that the summary implies.
    • Note that this only applies to making copies of sheet music, not merely singing the songs (or arranging, or performing, or anything else). Same sort of thing is in effect here in Canada, and I'm sure many other places. Not a wonderful policy, but not the culture-destroying terror that the summary implies.

      You obviously are new to /. Actual RTFA, comprehending what it says and making a rational comment are not the norm. You need to read the sensational headline, and then post a diatribe about the evils of copyright, the music cabal, and anyone that actually wants to make money of what they create; and make a bad car analogy and then rant against anyone who violates the GPL.

      I think we will see more of this - as traditional revenue streams dry up, companies will look to extracting money from areas they previo

    • It's been a while since I even thought about this, but I thought (at least in Canada), you could simply write to the publisher and get an educational exemption for reproducing lyrics. My elementary school choir had to do this.

      School bands aren't affected by this because when I was in band (Oblig: "this one time, at band camp...") we each had to buy our own copy of the music book. The few times we had copies, the band teacher did have to get permission from the publisher or she bought the special "band" ed

  • Let me play devil's advocate:

    Daycare centres are busineses. Carers are professionals earning a living from their work. If they want to use a musician's song as part of their work then why shouldn't they have to pay? Why should this beneficial material be provided freely to them?

    • by cptdondo (59460) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:14PM (#34701116) Journal

      Every culture out there in recorded and unrecorded history has had music and song. Heck, they even dug up a bone flute from 35,000 years ago. It's only in the last 70 years or so that it's become a business.

      Song and dance is innate to human existence, just like food or breathing. Heck, animals sing and dance. Watch any mating pair of herons.

      So now you're teaching those kids that singing a song is a business proposition, not a joyous thing. You pay to play. Talk about taking the fun out of something. And, maybe, just maybe, there won't be as many musicians because a lot of schools will eliminate music. It's just plain stupid.

      • by alen (225700)

        it has been a business for a long time. you really think all the medieval traveling musicians played for free? how did they buy food?

        big difference in the last 70 years is RECORDED MUSIC. you no longer need a band to play music live. that's the reason for copyright

        • by cptdondo (59460) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:26PM (#34701270) Journal

          So are you saying that the kids should be paid for signing? I'm confused.

          Signing for the joy of it should be free. Playing music for the joy of it should be free. Just as dancing is free. I can copy a ballet and dance without royalties. What makes music special?

          Education is a different business from any other; your product is not measured in profitability but rather in making better kids and citizens.

          • So are you saying that the kids should be paid for signing? I'm confused.

            Solved!

            So we'll make preschoolers pay to licence their singing...but we'll also make the GEMA pay royalties for them singing their songs.
            Not only is that a win/win, preschoolers get a free economics lesson on top of it all!

      • by WillAdams (45638)

        Giuseppe Verdi would argue against that --- he was prominent in the formation of the Societa Italiana Degli Autori Ed Editori (SIAE) in 1882 --- which was scarcely the first such effort ~128 years ago --- GEMA itself was formed in 1915 (95 years ago) out of an organization which started in 1903 (107 years ago).

        If you want music to be free, limit yourself to public domain stuff (Roger McGuinn's Folk Den http://www.ibiblio.org/jimmy/folkden-wp/ [ibiblio.org] is an excellent source which often includes sheet music) or write

    • By your logic, if I built a bridge, I would be owed royalties every time someone drove over it. If I built you a chair, I would be owed royalties every time you sat on it. If I wrote software, I would be owed royalties every time it's run (oh damn do I wish that was true, haha). Amazing concept: People get paid for working, not for past work that they already completed.
    • Let me play devil's advocate:

      Daycare centres are busineses. Carers are professionals earning a living from their work. If they want to use a musician's song as part of their work then why shouldn't they have to pay? Why should this beneficial material be provided freely to them?

      Just because you create something doesn't mean that you own it, especially if you expect to be paid for something when you don't do any additional work.

      They should pay for sheet music they are using, CD's that are played, or videos that the kids watch. However, groups of people have been singing songs together since time immemorial.

      Do you want your teachers spending time trying to write their own songs? Do we need advertisers to sponsor the kids singing times, so that your kids are always singing abo

    • Daycare centres are busineses. Carers are professionals earning a living from their work. If they want to use a musician's song as part of their work then why shouldn't they have to pay? Why should this beneficial material be provided freely to them?

      In most countries around the world freedom of speech/expression is an inherent right. Copyright law is a restriction on that right enacted in order to encourage the production of new works of art and science, i.e. if you make up a new song, you can make money off of it because we will restrict the free speech of others until you are paid.

      So, since the only justification for copyright in the first place is its benefit to society, benefit that must outweigh the restriction on inherent freedoms, don't you thin

      • So, since the only justification for copyright in the first place is its benefit to society

        I wouldn't say that artificial scarcity is a benefit to society. I think society would benefit far more from attempting to change itself so that criminalizing people for victimless crimes just so someone can make a profit is no longer needed.

  • by future assassin (639396) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:11PM (#34701068) Homepage

    for song writers to create children's songs as free marketing material, license them CC or free for school usage.

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      for song writers to create children's songs as free marketing material, license them CC or free for school usage

      If GEMA is anything like ASCAP or BMI, it won't matter. They will just insist on paying for licensing anyways [techdirt.com] even if it's original content or permitted reproduction.

  • I had a song I heard on the radio going through my head a few minutes ago. I feel guilty now. Maybe the RIAA should implant lobes in my head and charge my credit card automatically whenever I think about a song. It's only fair.

    • It sound funny now but in a future when implants could be a popular as an iPhone, this could happen.

      The only reason we see this ludicrous use of copyright is because the music business is saturated and is competing amongst other distractions (e.g. Internet, TV, sex, drugs, etc). As the competition increases, so will the abuses by useless middlemen.

  • Doubtless many of the "copyrighted" songs are derivative from earlier folk works that are long out of copyright. This is utterly silly.

  • by silanea (1241518) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:27PM (#34701296)
    People affiliated with the german Pirate Party have created and published a song book [klarmachen...aendern.de] (sorry, no english translation available) with several popular Christmas songs. They created the sheet music themselves and used only lyrics whose copyright protection has expired, so the song book can be freely used and distributed.
  • strike back (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:33PM (#34701380)

    The Pirate Party reacted by releasing a song book of freely licensed notesheets and song texts. That's basically a big "fuck you too" to the content cartels and their fee-squeezing lackeys. The more they're doing that sort of bullshit, the more the people are willing to rebel.

    http://musik.klarmachen-zum-aendern.de/nachrichten/gemeinfreie_notenblaetter_fuer_advents-_und_weihnachtslieder_3_update-588 [klarmachen...aendern.de]

  • by mswhippingboy (754599) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:33PM (#34701388)
    wants his long overdue royalties, after all he's had to feed all those damn noisy animals all these years....
  • Now if I can just get a copyright on prayer. Think of the income from the Lord's Prayer alone. Why should corporations be limited in their right to beat down the public and take every cent from their pockets?

    • If you make up your own prayer you could copyright its written word, but if you really want to make big bucks put the prayer to music.
  • by dragonhunter21 (1815102) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @02:37PM (#34701432) Journal

    Nobody at GEMA looked at this lawsuit and said "Holy shit, guys, we're suing toddlers!" and had second thoughts?

    No publicity is bad publicity, I know, but this is pushing it just a bit too far.

  • We all knew this would happen again sooner or later, what with all these new anti-consumer copyright laws either already enacted or pending legislation around the world.

    For those who don't remember, ASCAP threatens to sue girl scouts for exactly the same thing: http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/communications/ASCAP.html [umkc.edu]

  • ...thinks Horst Wessel's family needs to get their royalty checks.

  • by X.25 (255792)

    We'll soon reach the point of no return.

    Sooner than expected, though, but considering what these idiots are doing - it's not really a surprise.

    It won't be pretty :(

  • Charging copyright fees for teaching children to sing is the epitome of greed.
  • What is it with copyright lawyers consistently suing kids ten years old and younger?
  • I would steal this idea for a stand up sketch, if only it wasn't real..
  • by Antisyzygy (1495469) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @03:35PM (#34702244)
    Many people are basing their response on a gross misunderstanding. They are not charging kids to sing, they are charging for each kid to have their own sheet music. This is a common practice for all sheet music in band class, orchestra class, professional symphonic orchestras, church bands, ect. You could be outraged that they are targeting education or young kids, but not over the singing part unless you already disagree with the aforementioned common practice.
  • by Sean_Inconsequential (1883900) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @03:41PM (#34702350)

    Fuck those little bastards. They think they can sing whatever song they want and get away with it? What gives them the right? They are pretty much stealing from music industry executives. I say make them pay, retroactively even. And if I ever hear any of you so much as hum a single bar of the theme song for the show The Greatest American Hero, I will be reporting you to the proper authorities! A free education while they leach off the system and their parents isn't enough for them, oh no, they will not be satisfied until they are able to sing any song they wish without paying the publishing company that owns the song. You see, the world isn't going to end now, it is going to end when those little rug rats grow up and it will be all because they thought they could sing someone else's song for free. Well guess what, not on my watch!

  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @03:42PM (#34702360)
    From Sean Kennedy's Tales From The Afternow ( http://rantmedia.ca/afternow/ [rantmedia.ca] )
    (from transcript http://thinkforyourself.vaillife.net/assets/afternow/01tota.streamjack.doc [vaillife.net] ) -

    It was a few years later when the REAL crackdown came. The Listener’s License. What a fantastic concept. I can’t believe it. See it happened like this. There was this - there is all this piracy, see everybody was - piracy was - Uh, piracy is now what they now consider a theft. See in order to combat piracy which was getting really rampant, all this information was flowing around nobody really liked that so they wanted it gone. And they wanted to get rid of piracy. But they couldn’t stop it.

    The Internet was growing everyday. No one could stem the flow so they created the Listener’s License. Started real easy. See music, legitimate music to purchase, was, you know, say 20 bucks. And then what they did was, if you signed up to get this card, you know like a loyalty program card of the day. You’d get 75% percent off. So a 20 dollar CD became a 5 dollar CD. And you could buy it legitimately. For 20 bucks you would walk out of there with 4 CD’s. Amazing.

    Of course people were signing up for it in droves, I mean why wouldn’t ya? You could go buy a pirate CD for 6 bucks or you could buy the reall thing for 5. Consumers are such mercenaries. So they signed up en masse.

    2 years went by, 2 years. Then it became mandatory. See if you didn’t have your listener’s license, if you couldn’t present your card, well you weren’t able to buy music. Part of the licensing agreement came when you got the card. And all of sudden people were out in the cold.

    But it wasn’t just the music you know. The listener’s license was created by the conglomerates. They all got together. If you wanted to see a movie, hey if you had your listener’s license you could get in for 2 dollars. (chuckle) 2 bucks. Oh you don’t have a listener’s license, well you can’t get in. See they couldn’t control the piracy so they stopped it at its source.

    If ever you were found to be a pirate or if your computer was ever found to have MP3s that weren’t appropriate on it you were eliminated, your listener’s license was revoked and you were out of the loop. It's all private enterprise, you don’t have a right to music, you never had a right to it. It's all private.

    No more movies no more shows. Can’t even buy art. Cause you can scan it. What if you scanned that picture? So, regulation of course is always the first step to total domination. But we didn’t see that either. We weren’t ready for the horror.

    At that time the listener’s license had huge power. Not the power it has today, I mean now. If you do not have a valid listener’s license. I mean - well in our time you can’t do anything, I mean, you’re a pirate. If you can’t present, that is part of your paperwork. It’s part of your identification. See the listener’s license, after they came out with that. That was a huge step one.

    But everyone was so focused on the listener’s license they didn’t see where the REAL power play was made. See everyone was so whipped up, and the media again, you know the corporately controlled media. Got everyone focusing on the benefits and the drawbacks, a big debate over the listener’s license. But then what they didn’t see was, was the regulations that went into play on the recording equipment. See that was the one that really came back. They started putting these standards on microphones and any kind of recording media. You wanted to record, well you gotta adhere to this standard. Because this is the future. Got to make sure the quality is there.

    Chips were put into place. All recording med
  • by SirClicksalot (962033) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @04:39PM (#34702994)
    Since last year, SABAM (Belgium's RIAA) charges day cares and schools for the music they play in class:
    see here [expatica.com]
    Youth organizations, neighborhood parties and small businesses that play radio during work already had to pay for this (or risk being raided by the copyright cops).

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