The owners of B&Bs, gîtes and holiday lets in France are writing to their MPs and senators about letters recently received from the music royalty authority demanding €198.01 before tax (€223.97 after tax) annually for music played on the premises.
The Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique (Sacem) sent out the letters, stating that: “If you have a broadcasting device – radio, television, CD player – you must sign up to pay our annual fee for tourist accommodation to be in line with the rules.”
Hotels must pay royalties – droits d’auteur – to play music on their premises but they are not alone.
According to the Sacem’s website, the fee also applies to “chambres d’hôtes, gîtes, and furnished holiday rentals”.
There exists a 20% discount for owners having declared their use of broadcasting devices beforehand, Sacem has said.
It initially appeared that the charge covered all music-playing devices in bedrooms and communal areas.
However, the government has since confirmed that it only applies:
When there is music being played through a sound system in an area receiving members of the public
When the accommodation is receiving a television signal to all of its television sets
‘Amount is not in line with size of accommodation and rates’
Christian Biancaniello, president of the Clévacances France association of holiday let owners, told La Dépêche: “The amount seems to us to be not at all in proportion with the devices travellers are able to use.”
“This sum is unfair considering the type of activity we pursue. We are not arguing that artists should not be rewarded” for their work, Mr Biancaniello added, “but you cannot compare a big hotel network to a holiday let or a chambre d’hôtes.
“The imposed charge does not take into account the size of the accommodation, its opening times, its nightly rates or rental costs.”
However, if owners do not pay, they receive another letter reminding them of the need to be in “legal compliance” with regulations on the matter and threatening to take the case to the Cour de Cassation. Owners who still refuse to pay risk a fine of up to €300,000.
Members of Clévacances have written to their MPs and senators on the issue, arguing that: “We are emerging from two years of a pandemic and like 90%, or even 95%, of our holiday let owners are non-professionals, they have had to suffer the pause in activity with no assistance.”
They added that this new charge comes in the context of “double taxation, tax reforms and increasingly strict regulations,” and “is beginning to be too much, much too much”.
Sacem defends royalty rights rules
Sacem has not responded to recent requests for comment, but previously told Le Parisien: “Our operations are legal, they respond to a project which is in the public interest and included in the Code de la propriété intellectuelle.
“When protected works are broadcast – either directly or as recordings (in commercial settings like a holiday let), it is an act of communication to the public which is subject to rules on royalties.”
The charge imposed by Sacem is calculated based on the assumption that the premises will have guests for 105-110 days each year on average, meaning that the owners must pay €2 for each of these days.