Villages Furious about Copyright Fees for Folk Songs

The recent case of the local village of Pohorela being charged EUR 62.40 by copyright association SOZA because children sang copyrighted songs on Mothers’ Day has to be one of the most absurd cases of copyright being enforced in Slovakia.

TheDaily first drew attention to the Pohorela case by sharing it on Facebook at the end of May, but the case is not unique. Other villages and towns may also receive the same kinds of bills, like the one sent to the village of Helpa, which is being charged possibly for singing the well-known folk song celebrating the village called “To ta Helpa!”, for instance.

SOZA, which oversees the protection of music copyrights, is defending its position also because municipalities are supposed to conclude the necessary collective licence agreement before events take place. SOZA may be in the wrong, because it seems the law only affords protection to songs where the authors are known and not to folk songs that have been around for centuries. SOZA did not specify which songs were being ‘penalised’ on the bills.

The bill received by Pohorela, with charges for Mothers' Day and Santa Clause day (6 December)

The incident, even while involving small sums of money, has enraged people enough that a group was set up on Facebook, with a protest now planned outside the SOZA office at 12.30 this afternoon, where they will probably sing copyrighted folk songs. The village of Pohorela is contemplating filing a lawsuit against SOZA, as it refuses to pay, while SOZA insists on the money.

Culture minister Marek Madaric has spoken out also, with his spokesperson Jozef Bednar telling SME daily that “We would expect SOZA to proceed sensitively and with a healthy logic when applying the Copyright Act”. The issue has pointed to holes in copyright law, as cinemas, bars, restaurants etc. are all at the mercy of SOZA, which generated EUR 8.7 million in fees in 2010.

Cinemas in particular are not happy with the fees, which are charged regardless of what film is showing, if there is any music in the film, and even though copyright fees are covered already in the film rental.


  1. […] trouble is that when collection agencies pull this sort of outrageous bullshit, they continue to discredit copyright altogether in the eyes of the public. You’d think […]

  2. Conned by SOZA ????

    OH Heavens there is a real surprise in Slovakia .

  3. the kids in Pohorela did not sing any “copyrighted” songs, they sang folk songs The mayor of Pohorela was conned by SOZA into signing false documents.

  4. Strange how RTV has become all Royalist in the last few days, as on RTV 2 last evening, there was a Program on the Queens visit here a few years ago .

    Heck how she was force fed old Slovak folk song, dance and local Culture …just about everywhere she went in a day and a half . Don`t Slovaks ever look to the present and the future in time and introduce that to a visiting VIP, to how they are looking forward , rather than back ?? This place and those in Power clearly are in a time warp !

  5. SOZA might be better emplyed checking if businesses have a copyright licence. Many shops here have speakers outside playing music at ridiculous volumes in a misguided belief that it will attract customers. The resultant cacphony of noise is appauling and a sure deterent to locals and tourists alike.
    Also – the retards who double the value of their sad cars by fitting an audio system and drive around, windows wound down, playing the only track they possess at a level that can be heard a kilometer away, at any time of the day or night – maybe if they too had to pay for the privilage of disturbing the peace with their very public music they might realise that they are not cool, just a bloody irritating nuisance.
    Maybe school kids are an easier collar!

  6. Yes Slovak culture at it`s very best ….mind you my Breakfast Activa perhaps more culture …Ok old joke Dude`s .

    I went to one of these Slovak street markets a few weeks ago, in some southern town just outside Bratislava . Quite interesting really . I wanted to buy a Fujara, as I always think it is good to have a piece of Slovak wood, hanging from your wall at home . I think everyone should do it .

    So, I heard the guy quote a price to someone looking at the one I was interested and that attracted me on the first look round ….OK you guessed it, he wanted to charge me twice the price ………I had one made and collected it yesterday via a friend ….looks quite good hanging over the fire .

  7. Well thank Christ for that !

    With any luck, if the villages and towns are forced to pay for singing these bloody awful folk songs, then they will stop singing them .

    It will make my forced visits to the street markets of local produce, Festivals and Beerfest almost bearable ! Most of the time, the guys dress like some ruffter and sound like they had their scrotum for hours before in some vice and the woman have to make this irritating squeaky song sound, and all just to be part of the traditional show.

  8. That is the problem NY , laws here are just not respected and the political establishment are the worlds worse ….finding ways to rob the Public Purse and all within the Law of course …I guess , like the police , the political parties in power the SOZA want their bite at the golden cherry . The Public Purse !

  9. Ridicolous, how can law be respected when people applying it hold this silly cases.

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