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Royalties agency GEMA kills off senior tea dance

The Local · 21 Feb 2013, 14:30

Published: 21 Feb 2013 14:30 GMT+01:00

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The Hotel Sportforum in Kaarst-Büttgen, near Düsseldorf in North Rhine-Westphalia, used to host the afternoon tea dance to which up to 35 pensioners would come to dance to live swing music, played on a piano.

With free entry as long as each dancer spent at least €4.50 on drinks or buns, the afternoon had, according to regional newspaper the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung become popular among seniors in the area.

But last July the party was cancelled after GEMA, the German association responsible for collecting royalties, said that the hotel was not paying enough. A representative spotted a poster advertising the free event and smelt a rat.

It demanded Hotel Sportforum pay €150 a month – three times more than what it was currently paying. For a small hotel, this was too much.

GEMA said an institution had to pay music fees no matter whether they were using it for a good cause - just like electricity bills.

Elderly people “should dance, preferably every day but the owners of the music also have a right to get paid,” Gabi Schilcher from the company told the newspaper.

Hotel owner Susan Losseff expressed her disappointment in GEMA and said that “the tea dance was a meeting point for elderly people and it was really only about meeting up and having a chat.”

Story continues below…

Many of the guests lived alone and Losseff said she and the pensioners were determined to figure out a way to get the afternoon swinging again.

The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:01 February 21, 2013 by Wrench
F"cking Gema strikes again! What a bunch of useless asses.
15:13 February 21, 2013 by raandy
This organization is out of control. The people who "smelt the rat" are a good example of the moron mentality they exhibit.
15:16 February 21, 2013 by rosenthalenglish
Gema-Attacking,pensioners,kindergartens and anyone having fun near you.This organisation is really a menace and has got out of control.
15:58 February 21, 2013 by catjones
Maybe if everyone would just hum the same song, then everyone could dance to the same beat.

gema found the perfect home in the stasi-type mentality of germany. Funny, you don't hear about this problem in other countries.
16:26 February 21, 2013 by Englishted
What if the music they are dancing to is by artist who are dead there is a chance ,who do these idiots give the money they extort too? and what percent do they take for this public service?

I hate GEMA does have a Facebook page join I have.
17:34 February 21, 2013 by BobbyBaxter
It didn't know it was possible for me to HATE an organisation as much as I do GEMA. For me they respresent everything bad about the authorities Germany.
19:09 February 21, 2013 by frankiep
In other countries they have a name for a despicable organization like this: the mafia
19:29 February 21, 2013 by The-ex-pat
All they have to do is ensure the composer has been dead for 70 years and GEMA can go forth and multiply as the copyright will have expired.....Life of the artist plus 70 years.
20:38 February 21, 2013 by MaKo
You know, they remind me just ever so slightly of another despised organization: the Taliban.
21:06 February 21, 2013 by lucksi
Chances of me being affected by the Taliban: One in several million

Me being affected by GEMA: Daily

I know who is higher on my hate scale...
22:00 February 21, 2013 by AuslIndien
Really pissed off with GEMA. I agree the artists should get their fair share, but this was crossing the lines. As people here already mentioned, what about the artists who have already passed away? Does GEMA ensure that money reaches their kin?
22:56 February 21, 2013 by wood artist
I don't claim to be good at composing swing, but if some others want to try...and I'd certainly join in...we could give them some tunes, admittedly not the ones they're used to hearing, and literally just "give them" the tunes. A lot of us are more then willing to tell GEMA to shove it.

For those who might have followed my personal story with them, no, they still won't tell me who's claiming copyright on my stuff on Youtube.

23:32 February 21, 2013 by wethepeople2012
I wonder if the hacker group "anonymous" can help GEMA's website.
00:06 February 22, 2013 by belladons
This is another lobbying agency, connected to politicians, to get rich. What a waste of time and effort, but boy do they attack your pocket book. No wonder the world is screwed up.
01:31 February 22, 2013 by marimay
If only there were as much outrage about those who steal music through illegal downloads.
01:32 February 22, 2013 by wood artist
Considering that most of the great composers during the swing era are likely dead, I wonder where GEMA is sending their royalties. Maybe they just go to "administrative costs."

09:12 February 22, 2013 by Firmino
Do GEMA even give any money to artists?
10:06 February 22, 2013 by charlenej
Why is it as soon as I cross the border I have access to all kinds of music LEGALLY and only here is it a problem? These artists who come from all over the world outside of Germany posted their video themselves (or their label did) on YouTube but Germany is protecting them from themselves??? I don't understand.

I hate GEMA. Lord knows, if anyone ever wanted to organize a protest, I would be there selling T-shirts. We should seriously do something.
11:50 February 22, 2013 by LarryLaffer
GEMA, every day GEMA: http://i866.photobucket.com/albums/ab228/L_Laffer/Region_zpsb2d79ce9.png
22:47 February 22, 2013 by Knservis
I just wanted to respond to people wringing that this only happens in Germany. Wrong! Intellectual property mafias have a complete disregard for proportion and human rights such as privacy over commercial interests, in every country the operate. Eg. Us: DMCA, France: three strikes, Australia: read about the men at work case, internationally: region codes and geographic prohibition of services. We have allowed the content industry to do that.
17:21 February 23, 2013 by Harlan
In the USA you can have three seperate groups demanding music fees.
18:28 February 23, 2013 by MrMiyagi10301
I can't imagine ANY artist wanting this all-pervasive agency ensuring their own creations are *blocked* from being seen (???) - for example on any music artist's official youtube page, which I can see anywhere else, but is blocked here? How is that protecting the artist? And they're blocked for popular music but not for select other genres? Laughable. Although the recording industry has not gone this far in the US, there have been similar stories (suing single mothers for tens of thousands of dollars for what their *kids* downloaded - kids - to be held up as a public "example"). This sort of "powertrip" has been a direct cause of continued decreased record sales. No, record industry, it's not because everyone's still downloading music, it's because everyone *despises* you to the very core of their being. GEMA sounds positively Machiavellian.
13:29 February 27, 2013 by Brummie in the Sauerland
16:01 February 28, 2013 by princigalli
F*****g psychopaths at GEMA, but I ask myself why Germans tolerate this.
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