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02 July 2018 / article

You’re watching the World Cup with your colleagues, but Sabam is watching you!

Pieter, the Event Manager of a Belgian chocolates producer, has come up with a great idea: in order to support our Belgian pride at the World Cup in Russia and to promote the positive atmosphere between colleagues (many of his co-workers are big football fans), the matches of the Belgian team will be shown on a large screen, with a small company party afterwards. But does this initiative have to be notified to Sabam?

You’re watching the World Cup with your colleagues, but Sabam is watching you!

This article is available in Dutch and in French.

Sabam is the Belgian collective rights society responsible for the collection and distribution of copyright levies of authors, artists, composers and publishers. When they become members of Sabam, they allow Sabam to collect on their behalf the compensation to be paid by third parties making use of a copyrighted work in public locations. Sabam does this by collecting fixed amounts and distributing these among its members afterwards.

Authors, artists, composers and publishers are not obliged to become members of Sabam or to include their copyrighted works in Sabam’s catalogue. As soon as a work is sufficiently “original” (meaning that it must be the creative expression of the author’s own mind and personal choices), it will be protected by copyright in Belgium. This rule is laid down in the Belgian Copyright Act, included in the Code of Economic Law. The use of the © sign is not required either in Belgium in order to benefit legal protection.

Restaurants and bars that already pay Sabam for the transmission of music or television broadcasts and generally do not have to file additional notifications to broadcast the World Cup. Pieter’s company on the other hand, has never filed a notification with Sabam before. Whether they should do this for the World Cup party, depends on the following elements:

  • If they only show the television transmission of the games, no compensation should be paid to Sabam.
  • If, additionally, they also intend to play music before and after the games and during half-time, in order to create a festive mood, a notification will have to be filed.

Pieter likes throwing a party and selects the latter option. When completing the Sabam notification form he notices that many different rates may apply. For example, there is a specific Sabam rate for events and sports manifestations, a different rate for parties, and a rate for playing music in the workplace.

Important criteria to determine the correct rate are the public or enclosed nature of the event (is it only accessible for own personnel, or also for neighbours, visitors or persons passing by?), the exact location of the event (at the reception area, in one of the company’s stores, or on the parking lot?) and the surface area of this location.

Additionally, in case of public projections on large screens, the permission of the public broadcasting organisation is in principle also required (more information on the websites of VRT and RTBF) and the conditions of FIFA need to be complied with.

Pieter is eventually successful in calculating the correct amount of levies to be paid and notifies the planned World Cup party to the authorities. That way, Sabam won’t be able to spoil the game!



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