Finnish cabbies to pay for backseat music
RIAA is alive and well in Scandinavia
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
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.