Luxembourg copyright agency Sacem doesn’t levy fees from businesses closed because of the pandemic, resulting in losses of revenue between 40 and 80%, depending on the sector.
Hospitality federations in Belgium are opposing having to pay for licences to broadcast music that fail to take into account government-mandated closures. The issue doesn’t concern Luxembourg, where Sacem already last year decided to waive fees.
“From the first lockdown, we spoke with Sacem in France and Germany and it seemed obvious to stop billing. That’s what we did. We recalculated the annual royalties and set up credit for anyone who had paid too much,” said Sacem general manager Marc Nickts.
Sacem in Luxembourg issues licences to play copyrighted music, for example to restaurants, bars or events venues. It receives royalties and distributes them to the creators of the works disseminated.
Disruption in the sector forced the agency to register its own staff for partial unemployment benefits.
“But broadcasting didn't stop completely,” said Nickts. “There are radios and, above all, streaming solutions which continued, while the cafés and restaurants were closed, and the performing arts players entered a year without an event. I think our losses will be 40 to 80%, depending on the sector,” he said.
On average, Sacem collects €4 to €5m annually. An international copyright confederation estimates losses of around €3.5bn in royalties because of lockdown measures.
“It is the creators who are to be pitied,” said the general manager of Sacem Luxembourg. “They were among the first to have to shut down, and they still haven't really picked up.”
This article was first published in French on paperjam.lu and has been translated and edited for Delano.