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Should the state be able to use our songs for free?

Songwriters deserve to be paid for their work. But often the state gets to use music without payment. Is that fair?

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There was an article in Audio Masterclass recently titled German kindergartens to be made to pay for children to sing.

The article made the point that where a business uses music to help it make a profit, then the creators of that music, assuming it is still in copyright, deserve to be paid. But one comment was rather interesting...

Job Van Zuijlen, Arlington, Va, USA

Are they businesses in Germany? That would the point, so unless you actually live in Germany, your comment doesn't make sense.

Where I live, Kindergarten is part of the public school system, so not a business. I also doubt if it would benefit the individual songwriter. It would benefit the performance right societies, who then, using a magic wand, distribute it to those who already have the most.

Anyway, it sounds pretty ridiculous to me... I guess it's just back to nursery rhymes.

This is a valid comment, which we interpret this to mean that while a business makes a profit and ought to pay, a kindergarten that is state funded doesn't make a profit and therefore doesn't need to pay.

This really does open up a whole new can of rather slimy and wriggly worms.

Suppose for instance that someone wanted to open a high-class kindergarten in this region. There will always be parents willing to pay a premium to get what they consider to be a better service, so as a business model it should be viable.

But the owner of this business already has to compete against publicly funded services. And now following the logic of the comment it seems that while it may be considered fair that the business pays to use music, publicly funded kindergartens do not.

So the business has an extra expense, making it tougher to compete against the state.

At Audio Masterclass we have always said that musicians, songwriters and composers deserve to get paid for their work. And paid for their music, not their t-shirts. So we will add that we also believe that where music is used by public bodies, the creators of that music should be rewarded at the same rate as if that music were used by a business.

By David Mellor Thursday January 6, 2011
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