Boiling Over Brewers: Czech Pubs Rebel Against Music Royalty Fee Hike

In a recent development, Czech pubs, bars, and cafés are facing a significant increase in music royalty fees. The Protective Association of Copyright (OSA) raised the cost by 10.7 percent in January, matching the average rate of last year’s inflation. The increase has left many operators disgruntled as they already pay thousands of crowns monthly and regard the new fees as excessively high.

One operator, Petr, who runs two establishments in Ostrava, shared his concerns. His bar on Stodolni Street, which can accommodate around fifty people, is now asked to pay over 50,000 crowns annually. While he is obliged to pay, Petr feels the cost is too high. Moreover, he is worried about potential repercussions and prefers not to disclose his full name or the name of his businesses.

Interestingly, Petr has adopted an alternative approach for his second business, a lunchtime restaurant in a different part of Ostrava. Several years ago, he terminated his contract with OSA and switched to an internet radio that plays music from authors not represented by OSA. He finds this often second-rate music sufficient as a backdrop to lunches and to avoid silence in the restaurant.

The calculation of copyright remuneration for restaurants considers the type of device used to play music and the size of the municipality where the restaurant is located. For instance, a pub in Prague’s Žižkov, equipped with one radio, one television broadcasting sports matches, and two speakers, should pay a fee of 2384 crowns per month, including VAT, according to the tariff of collective administrators.

However, the operators are frustrated with the increasing fees. Another operator, Marek Albrecht from the Olomouc restaurant ‘U Zlaté koule’, preferred not to publicly share his views on the fee increase. He grudgingly acknowledges that the fee must be paid, but he believes the Protective Association of Copyright has other means to raise funds and should not squeeze businesses like his.

In conclusion, while the operators are bound to pay these fees, they believe the process lacks transparency and the costs are disproportionate. They are left wondering where their money is going and, given the choice, would instead give the extra money to their staff.