Court Rejects Argument That The Music Industry Deserves ‘Pirate Tax’ On Every Internet Connection

The legacy recording industry continues to seek any possible way to force people to pay, now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money to the old gatekeepers. After years of seeking increasing “you must be a criminal” levies on hard drives, blank CDs and other media, there has been a more recent focus on just trying to get broadband access providers to add a “piracy tax” to all internet connections. Over in Belgium, the collection society SABAM has been leading this charge. Back in 2011, it suddenly started demanding 3.4% of all internet connection fees from ISPs in Belgium. When the broadband providers refused to just pay up, SABAM sued in 2013. And it’s not going particularly well. The court has now rejected SABAM’s claims, noting (correctly) that internet access providers are mere conduits and shouldn’t have to pay for the actions of their users.

This is the right decision, though there’s a decent chance that SABAM will appeal. Either way, this shows the incredible entitlement felt by some in the industry. They feel that if people no longer want to pay them, that everyone should be forced to pay. That’s really quite incredible when you think about it. In most businesses, if customers are no longer interested in buying what you’re selling at the price you’re offering, you have to learn to adapt. But the legacy recording industry still seems to think the problem is with the public, rather than with its own business model.

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