Reading Books To Kids? That’ll Cost You $300

In a case of copyrights gone too far, a Belgian association, Sabam, wants to charge libraries fees for having volunteers read books to children.


Sabam’s members include authors, artists, musicians, and film directors; The Next Web‘s Robin Wauters describes the association as “one of the global poster children for how outrageously out of touch with reality certain rightsholders groups appear to be.”

The newspaper De Morgen reports that a local library in Dilbeek in Belgium and some other small towns have been contacted by Sabam, which says that the libraries should have to pay about 250 euros (just over $300) a year for volunteers to read copyright books to children. Librarians say they rely on volunteers to read to about ten children twice a month as the libraries have no budget for such.Amazingly — abhorrently — even older works such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales would not be exempt according to Sabam’s calculations as any edition of the stories is under a copyright, notes Muriel Kane on Raw Story.

While describing the whole matter as “Kafkaian,” Wauters — who encourages people tothe contact the governmentto speak up about Sabam –says that all of this charging-libraries-fees-for-reading-books-to-kids business could be “just crazy enough for the world to pay even more attention to their wicked ways.”.Sabam, says Kane, is “notorious in Europe for its copyright-related activities,” some of which have led to legal charges against the organization. Sabam has demanded that a social networking site be forced to filter content but the European Court of Justice has ruled that such would violate users’ privacy. In another lawsuit filed in 2004, a Belgian composer charged that there had been “alleged ‘breaches’ in his royalty payments”; this suit had led to charges against Sabam of “falsifying accounts to cover up bribes, abuse of trust, copyright fraud and embezzlement.”

Sabam says that libraries, as they are “public places,” must pay royalties “for a public reading session. Wauters’ observation that this demand could serve to make very public Sabam’s “wicked ways” is apt: Since the report about Sabam and libraries appeared, Sabam has been (notes Kane) saying the whole thing is a “misunderstanding,” while contending that “although it does have the right to demand a reading fee, the library in question was only being asked to pay for playing music.”

Clearly, in Sabam’s eyes, to say there is “no free lunch” is an understatement.

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Hello G.
Hello G.2 years ago


LD B.3 years ago

Oddly, only two countries fully recognize the concept of fair use, the US and Israel.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

this is just plain ridiculous. if my son loved a book that was read to him he would want me to read it to him over and OVER, wed either get a copy from the library or buy it for his birthday or something. These people trying to charge libraries? Wow, so clueless

Shan D.
Shan D.3 years ago

(con't) Oh, and Tamara... if you took your ridiculous hat off, you might be able to see the world as it really is, not as your political gurus would have you believe.

Shan D.
Shan D.3 years ago

"Does someone want to teach children not to read?" - That's basically it. The corporations want the normal populace to be as stupid and manipulable as possible so they won't understand how badly they *are* being manipulated. With any conversion process, the younger you start, the more successful you'll be. So start kids young with not being read to (because the libraries can't afford it, or have to charge parents user fees *they* can't afford), and they'll never miss what they never had. Less reading, less thinking.

I remember when I was in Grade 5 and the school librarian read us a mystery story: The Mystery of the Talking Skull, from the Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators series. I enjoyed that story so much, I read it later for myself. And then I asked for more Three Investigators books for my birthday and Christmas. Over 40 years later, I own thousands of books (started collecting long before T3I, but that was the first read to me in a library). I'm a lifelong reader with an eclectic range of books from my favorite kids' books to fiction, reference, amateur press publications... The vast majority are in English, but I've also got foreign language books, some of which I can read and some of which I'm learning the language because I *want* to read them. Now tell me this love of books and reading would have been the same if I'd never been read to as a child...

Oh, and Tamara... if you took your ridiculous hat off, you might be able to see the world as it rea

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley3 years ago

This is just plain silly--my first reaction was to laugh!

Past Member
Past Member 3 years ago

Sabam seems to fail to understand the concept of a library. I would suggest they go look in dictionary, but not unless they have purchased the dictionary first.

june t.
june t.3 years ago

it seems that greed aims to shut down libraries

s. ryan
p. q3 years ago


Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold3 years ago

If something like this charge was to be put in law, it would effectively stop all reading by children. What about the other people who take out library books? Do they have to pay to read them as well or is the charge only for people who read out loud? Is there going to be a special charge on the people who buy actual books and e-books? I believe that within the next few years, we will be having to wear meters that will tell how much air we breathe so they can charge us.