MusicDish e-Journal - July 20, 2018
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Finnish cabbies to pay for backseat music
RIAA is alive and well in Scandinavia
By Jon Newton,
(more articles from this author)
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Finnish taxi drivers will have to fork out royalty fees if they play music while a customer is in the backseat, Finland's Supreme Court has decided after a 7 - 4 vote.

If a CD, tape cassette or radio is playing while a punter is on board a cab, it's the same as a public performance and under the court ruling is, therefore, subject to a standard copyright fee, reports Finland's Helsingin Sanomat's English language edition.

"The decision followed the lines of two lower courts, who had ordered a Helsinki taxi driver to pay the Finnish Composers' Copyright Society Teosto FIM 240 (EUR 40) in royalty fees for playing music in his cab for a year," said the newspaper.

"The Supreme Court lowered the payment to EUR 22 (about $22 US) because the playing of music did not apparently have much bearing on the establishment of customer relationships. In addition, the rides were often of short duration, involving only a small number of passengers.

"The court based its decision on Finnish copyright law, according to which playing music - even to a small group of people - is considered a public performance if it takes place in connection with an activity involving the earning of money - as is the case with music being played in a taxi."

The four-person minority view was that if there's music in a taxi, it's probably there mainly for the driver's enjoyment, especially if he/she is waiting for a customer.

"Customers often ask that the music be turned off," added Helsingin Sanomat. "For this reason, the minority on the Supreme Court felt that the monetary benefit of playing music in a taxi is questionable at best, and they felt that it is also questionable to apply copyright legislation to such a situation."

The court apparently didn't rule on whether or not it's OK for drivers to whistle or sing with a passenger in the cab.

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