Slovakia: Protesting SOZA's Newest Copyright Fees

Recently, the Slovak Performing and Mechanical Rights Society (SOZA) has once again tried to push the boundaries of what's acceptable.

SOZA's general manager Vladimír Repčík addressed Slovak high school seniors via his blog on October 22, urging them to register with his agency and pay €15 for their traditional graduation parties (the post [sk] has since been removed by SOZA):

[…] A license for €15 for the whole event isn't going to ruin any graduation party. […]

The Ministry of Culture appealed to SOZA, insisting that student graduation parties were for parents and teachers and could not be considered public events – hence, there was no reason for SOZA to introduce a fee for them.

In reaction, SOZA declared [sk] that “due to special social character” of such parties, they will not be charged – “even though the law allows SOZA to ask for payment.”

As usual, SOZA's actions elicited angry responses on blogs and in comments to media articles.

Martin Královič thought [sk] it would be a good idea to register Christmas of 2012, his 50th birthday celebration (in 2038) and his own funeral with SOZA.

Martin Huba asked [sk] about the whereabouts of the money paid by clubs where he gave concerts with his band: as an author, he has been filling SOZA forms, providing an address to which this money should have been sent. thought [sk] that strict application of the laws was the best way to deal with SOZA. Using the Ministry of Culture's graduation party statement as a precedent, restaurants paying to SOZA for public music could declare themselves private clubs (with low entrance fees, though). Concert organizers and others could do the same. came up with this parody [sk], featuring Repčík and Adolf Hitler:

“There's nothing better than an overly active officer.” Repčík: “Look, I do not care if the law is good or fair. I follow it blindly.” Hitler: “That one I want! That's what an officer has to be!” (Image by, used with permission.)

On October 25, a small rally [sk; images, video] took place in front of the Ministry of Culture. About a dozen anti-SOZA activists [sk, image] were asking the ministry to consider canceling SOZA's license and were appealing to SOZA to replace their chief. The ministry later announced it had no direct influence on SOZA (one blogger called it [sk] absurd), but urged the agency to act “sensitively and in accordance with common sense.”

The related copyright law is to be slightly updated in the coming weeks – “to avoid repeating [some of the recent] absurd cases.” (See GV posts here and here for more; also, this month, SOZA was trying to impose [sk] a €20 fee for music played at dentists’ offices.)


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