Torrrentfreak reports that the Belgian music royalty collecting agency SABAM has said that it will bill Internet Service Providers for allowing subscribers to play and download copyrighted songs. SABAM claims it is entitled to charge ISPs for compensation for illegal downloading by their users based on existing 1994 copyright law, and is demanding 3.4% percent of the monthly fee paid by subscribers. The legislation provides that authors should be paid for any “public broadcast” of a song – although whether a download is a ‘public broadcast’ is a moot point. In a recent blog o 1709 (4th October) we examined the US position, where the Courts have recently held that a download is NOT a public performance of a recorded work.
Belgian ISPs, who are also involved in a longstanding legal battle with Sabam over a network piracy filter (Sabam v Tiscali), believe the demands of the music rights group make little sense with Torrentfreak reporting Belgacom spokesperson saying “It’s their interpretation of the law, but that is not legally justified