I Belgien er der i disse dage voldsom debat om oplæsning. Agenturet SABAM opkræver copyright-kompensation for højtlæsning og historiefortælling på biblioteker. Ind til videre har den belgiske minister besluttet, at al oplæsning og fortælling i skoler og på skolebiblioteker skal være undtaget fra at betale, men det er en interessant debat at følge, og vi må se i øjnene, at den på sigt kan komme til at påvirke vores vilkår herhjemme. Herunder kan læses en uformel engelsk oversættelse af et dokument om konflikten:
Sabam collects payment copyright for storytelling hours
Tuesday 27 Mar 2012
Commotion in the press, and on Facebook and Twitter, as it became known that Sabam collects payment copyright for storytelling hours in libraries.
It is true that reading in the library or other public places, is a communication to the public for which one needs the consent of the right holder. It makes no difference whether the author, a professional storyteller or a volunteer is reading.
The question is, who manages the copyrights. In principle, authors have the rights to their work, but it seems a common practice that those rights are transferred to their publisher. If the rights are not transferred, the authors own it themselves, or they can subcontracted them to a law society. Sabam is one, but there are also others, such as SACD Scam.
So, it is not the case that Sabam manages all rights of all authors and work with lump sums for reading sessions. A correct procedure would be that the right holding organisation proves that it administers the rights of the book which is read and sends an invoice based on these rights.
There is an exception to the public right of communication in the context of school activities. If story telling or reading is taking place in a school-based program, then no permission and no fee is required.
Another question is whether the authors do wish that these rights are to be collected. Feedback from the Flemish Authors Association and of individual authors in the press assures that this is not systematically the case. Authors also realize that they benefit from a good reading culture.
Reading and storytelling is an essential first step. Children learn to associate books with pleasure, with tension. They learn to appreciate books. This will benefit the whole chain of the book sector from authors to bookstores.
In response to parliamentary questions Minister Schauvliege argued to exempt all activities with an educational character including the storytelling hours in the library. The minister has in the past repeatedly stressed the importance of reading.