the music business makes a lot less money than it once did. I get it. But when it can still afford to pay people to come up with an argument like rental cars are public places and since they have radios in them everyone should have to pay license fees, it still makes more than enough money.
STIM (Svenska Tonsättares Internationella Musikbyrå) is a collecting society for songwriters, composers and music publishers. It demands license fees whenever its members’ music is broadcast or transmitted, and collects sizable revenues from music streaming service Spotify. STIM also ensures that its members are paid when their music is played in public and this is at the heart of the dispute with Fleetmanager.
Each car rented out by Fleetmanager contains a stereo radio and CD player so that the customer can enjoy broadcasts of all kinds, including music. STIM says that to do so legally Fleetmanager needs to obtain a license but to date has failed to do so.
According to SVD, STIM is arguing that the inside of Fleetmanager’s cars contain members of the public and therefore amount to public places. On this basis the company needs to obtain a public performance license. Fleetmanager disagrees, noting that any music played inside a car is only heard by a limited circle of people.
STIM disagrees. The collection society says that previous cases involving hoteliers have ended with licenses being obtained which enable hotel guests to listen to music while on the premises. Furthermore, other car rental companies in Sweden have already agreed to pay a per-stereo levy so Fleetmanager should also pay, STIM argues.
This, of course, is utter nonsense. Even if the CIA rendered the concepts of logic and reason to a remote location and then waterboarded them until they said it was sound, it would still be utter nonsense.
Just because something is used by the public, it isn’t automatically a public place. When you rent a car, other members of the public have rented it in the past and more will rent it when you’re done with it, but while you’re paying for it, it’s basically your car (A.K.A. a private space). If somebody steals it while it’s in your possession, the police won’t say “tough shit, it’s a public car so let the next guy have it as long as he left enough money behind” and hang up in your ear, at least not in any situation I’ve ever heard of.
And if a rented car is a public place, then so is everyone’s rented apartment. Is it even legal that my main entrance is secured and we all have door locks? And should I be paying license fees right now because my radio is on? Of course not, because I’m the only one here in what is, even though I’m renting it and it’s in a big building that the public has access to, my private house. To argue otherwise would be stupid. You know, just like this.