Creative Commons licensed music freely usable in Belgium? Think again.

Joeri Poesen //

Belgian law dictates that certain dues need to be paid when you play music at a party, in a public place or during an event. This is handled through certain organizations that were initially set up to protect artists’ rights.

However, it turns out that these dues – called “Fair remuneration” (“billijke vergoeding” in Dutch) also need to be paid when playing music released under a Creative Commons license.

I cannot begin to describe how wrong this is and how very much this sucks. If a friend of mine organizes a free event, and I compose and produce some tracks for him, he ends up having to pay the government several hundred euros (of which I will never see a cent, by the way).

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Although Belgian copyright law (June 30, 1994) recognizes the CC license as a full and exclusive right, the so called “Fair remunerations” still have to be paid. The Belgian version of the CC license even explicitly states that the license does not aim to contradict the “Fair remuneration” system in any way.

I am obviously not a lawyer, and I imagine there’s a good reason why this “Fair remuneration” paragraph is present in the CC license. But for the love of me I can’t find a good reason why. The very existence of this paragraph makes it de facto impossible to contradict (or even discuss) the applicability of the “Fair remuneration” system to music released under a Belgian CC license.

Question: would the “Fair remuneration” system also apply to works released under a non-Belgian CC license?

Plea: Does anyone have expertise in this? Can anyone elaborate on this, explain this paragraph in the Belgian CC license, present loop holes, anything? Please discuss.