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Swedish Copyright Group Wants $5,000 p/yr Permit for Workplace Music

Swedish Performing Rights Society says employers should have a permit to allow employees to listen to music during work hours.

The Swedish Performing Rights Society (STIM), whose job it is to “protect the interests of authors and publishers of music in Sweden,” has sent letters to over 2900 companies in Sweden demanding compensation for their allowing employees to listen to music during work hours.

“Perhaps someone has the radio on or is listening to a CD and if so, you need to have a permit that allows for music to be played the workplace,” said Susanne Bodin, a STIM spokesperson, to the Sweden-based DN newspaper. “A workplace isn’t private and therefore you should have a licence for music to be played so that the copyright holders get paid.”

The issue first arose after STIM sent a letter to the County Council in Stockholm demanding 25,000 kronor ($3,141 USD) in order to allow its 500 employees to listen to music at work. It then asked the Govt Offices of Sweden if the fees were proper.

“According to the legal investigation I carried out, it seems appropriate that these fees are paid, but we still want a response from the Government Offices as to whether you pay these fees yourself,” says State Provincial Office lawyer Annika Kleen in a letter to the Cabinet Office.

According STIM, all companies and organizations with more than 40 employees must pay a licensing fee if employees listen to music on a CD player or PC that can be heard by others.

“It is part of our mission to find these companies so that our clients, music generators, get paid,” says Bodin. “We would have preferred that the situation is the reverse: that companies and organizations contacted us, but it is difficult to know of all that need licenses.”

So what of businesses that say they employees aren’t listening to music? Will there be surprise workplace inspections?

“We obviously can not force anyone to pay if they say they are not listening to music,” adds Bodin.

It follows a similar effort in other countries like Australia, where music licensing bodies are even targeting gyms, cafes, restaurants, and other places where people hear music as a group.