Danish band claims collecting society prevented them from playing anti-ACTA gig

The Danish band Qu'est-ce Que fuck? claims that they were prevented from playing an anti-ACTA gig by KODA, a Danish rights-management society. They claim that KODA deliberately put a number of bureaucratic hurdles in their path, with the final straw being a demand that the band be paid 4,000 Kroner for their appearance (which was beyond the means of the organisers), despite the band's assurance that they would only perform their own material.

Our so-called guild KODA and the Aarhus police have done everything they could to prevent our performance today, and they succeeded.

The requirement of KODA's hand to the organizers of the demonstration was that we should have at least 4000 dollars for appearing today. 4000 crowns as organizers of today's demonstration obviously have not had time to travel when a claim was made yesterday, and as you know, not exactly make money by organizing popular protests.

We have tried to explain KODA that we want to play our own compositions free to support the event, but we had not.

We suggested them so that we could improvise the entire concert, avoiding rights issues at the event. This was not an option.

We do not feel that it is in our best interest to deny us the chance to play our music to the public!

We are not artists because of the pursuit of profit and regelrytteri. We simply can not help but create music.

Naturally, we believe that all people are entitled to payment for their work and musicians, we know that the problem lies in the piracy of our music or sharing our videos on youtube.

Koda away censoring free music from Aarhus' demonstration against the ACTA (Google Translate)

Koda bortcensurerer gratis musik fra Aarhus’ demonstration mod ACTA (original in Danish)


  1. It’s hard to figure out what to make of this story. Being a KODA member (like any other Danish composer), I know that KODA would have no mandate nor interest in arguing for the bands fee – that’s a union question, and KODA is not a union, but a rightsholder organisation. They might claim that the organisers pay the fee for using protected music as part of the demonstration, but my experience with them is, that they’d never do that – it’s up to the artists and organizers to tell KODA what has been played where, and I’ve never seen them try to figure that out on their own initiative – especially not before the event has even occurred.
    There is speculation that this story is more about getting attention to the band and the stop-ACTA protesters, than it is about KODA being out suddenly looking very hard for bad press.

    1. If you read the comments in the original blog post, you’ll notice that KODA confirm they were involved and refused to accept that the band played its own compositions (“protected works”) without a fee. I still don’t know how KODA got involved in the first place, but there’s no doubt that the organizers were put in a situation where they could not let the band pay. That should do away with your unsourced “speculation”.

      The band might have formally donated the 4,000 to the organizers and thus voided the payment, but as KODA’s demand came the day before the demonstration there was no time to sort it out.

      1.  OK, I’ll have to read that. When I first read the blog post (yesterday, as far as I recall), there were no comments to it yet. I looked in vain to koda.dk to find their comments on the issue.

  2. A slightly better translation, by me:

    our so called guild, Koda, and the Aarhus police force has done what they could to stop us from performing today, and they have succeded.

    Kodas demand of the organizers was that we should be paid a minimum of dkr 4000 for our performance today. dkr 4000 that the organizers did not have time to raise, since the demand was only made clear yesterday, and because public protests aren’t exactly for profit affairs.

    We have tried to explain to KODa that we would like to play our own compositions for free, in order to support the protest, but we where not allowed to do so.

    We then suggested that we could improvise the entire concert, and in that way avoid any problems with intellectual rights in connection with the protest. Again we where told that this was not an option.

    We do not feel that it is in our best interest to deny us the chance to play our music to the public!

    We are not artists because of the pursuit of profit and following rules. We simply can not help but create music.

    Naturally, we believe that all people are entitled to payment for their work, and as musicians, we know that the problem does not lie in the piracy of our music or the sharing of our videos on youtube.

    1. BB should really correct the above with your translation… that missing negative in the last paragraph really confuses things.

      1. That would be pretty close too, yes.
        The actual meaning is more like “excessive adherence to the rules”, but there’s no good short way (that I know of ) to say that in english.

        Actually, the word doesn’t fit too well in that spot in danish, either…

        1. We have a term in England that sort of covers it: ‘jobsworth’

          As in, ‘sorry guv, I dislike rule X as much as you do, but I have to go along with rule X to the letter.  I’d let it go, but it’s more than my jobs worth.’

  3. “we know that the problem lies in the piracy of our music or sharing our videos on youtube”


  4. looks like pretty standard “rights collecting agency” behavior to me.

    In Belgium this agency is called SABAM (technically they don’t have a monopoly but practically they have) and they have been known asking performers to pay a performance fee, even if the band was a) playing own compositions and b) where even not a member of SABAM (so they never could be “payed out” by SABAM for this performance).
    note that there is even no legal requirement to actually be a member of a “rights collecting agency” in Belgium in any way.

    I’ve spoken trough the years with some of the “sabam agents” (= people who are doing checks for SABAM at party’s, concerts etc as a sidejob) and most lack the most basic understanding of that what they can and cannot do. Problem is that is such a “agent” calls the cops he’s often succeed in closing the gig seen the cops have almost no clue either (and that is something i can understand) and just assume someone from a well know body like SABAM is correct.

      1. Sounds like even if it’s not technically legal that since this is a ‘honest’ body ‘only wanting to sort legal matters out’ they can get away with it by using some sort of crap song and dance.

      2. Funny you say that. An investigating judge has just concluded, among other things, that SABAM has been cooking the books to hide kickbacks paid to government functionaries (see e.g. in Dutch: http://www.tijd.be/nieuws/ondernemingen_media/Sabam_verwezen_naar_strafrechter.9161380-3120.art ).

        Worst of all, they are terrible at actually paying the artists they supposedly represent. Millions of euros that should have gone to the artists ended up sticking to the fingers of the SABAM administration.

  5. So is there any reason why they couldn’t have drafted in an additional musician to form a temporary band and then just performed anyway?

    Bureaucracy cuts both ways. They can hardly claim rights for a band that didn’t exist until the gig, nor original composition for the gig. Record the whole gig and then tell KODA’s lawyers to go to hell.

  6. In the original blog, KODA officials now propose that the band demanded the 4k DKK and immediately donated the same amount back. Well, the band could have thought of that themselves – but KODA sure could have told them as well.

    1.  but i bet that in that case KODA still would charge a fee for the band’s performance, seen an actual payment was made (even if that was handed back) and that is what they are actually interested in.. $$$$

  7. The Danish band Qu’est-ce Que fuck? claims…

    Tsk tsk tsk! Shame on you for this inaccurate and inflammatory post! The original clearly states that the name of the band is “Qu’est-ce Que Fück?”. 

    Umlauts mäke everythïng classiër!

  8. This is completely nonsensical. How, under any country’s law, can a rightsholder organization prevent a band from playing its own music? Did the band assign the copyrights to KODA? That’s the only way I can see this making any sense at all.

    1. This is not nonsense, they can’t prevent the band from playing, but if you are an organizer and someone from a well known national rights holder organization walks in and claims you need to cough up x amount of money as “fee” to let the band play most people will think twice to continue, especially if you are doing stuff like a local “free podium” gig that has bugger all revenue. Mainly because they are not sure if the agent is talking BS or not.
      For “Jo Average” this kind of stuff is so far from what you’re used to deal with that it’s very hard to have stuff like this fact-checked by someone “independent”, let alone if you know how to find someone who can do that without asking $$ lawyer fee’s.
      Note that i’m NOT saying this is what happend here with KODA , just replying on the “nonsense” .

  9. “regelrytteri”, roughly translate to lawyer-balling. A literal translation would be “rule jockeying”

  10. It seems that the status of the claim is  that KODA’s response is: “Yes, we did this, but we had our reasons” (to prevent the duo from playing their own compositions as a contribution to the demo). If you read the comments on the original blog post, or this article:


    it will be clear enough (alas, all in Danish, I don’t have time to provide better than Google Translate).

    So I suppose if this was a story on snopes.com, its status would be true.

  11. It’s a similar story with GEMA in Germany (whom you might have heard of from Germans complaining about blocked YouTube videos). If a band is a member of GEMA, they get some money for every radio- and public play of their songs, and also when other bands cover  their stuff at concerts. But the way it works is, the concert venue just submits a list of songs played to GEMA and pays accordingly, no matter if it’s the original band or a cover. In theory it wouldn’t matter, because the band would just receive the money again that was paid for playing their own songs, but in practice they get less because GEMAs redistribution scheme is biased towards more unpopular music (i.e. classical music). That’s a source of great annoyance for everybody except classical musicians, who seem to have a lot of power because everybody has been complaining about this for ages.


    The solution is of course to not be a member of GEMA in the first place, but it’s the same as signing a major-label deal: you might miss out on some money when you become popular.

  12. The comments section of the original blog post has evolved into a dialogue about ACTA, technology, file sharing and rights between activists, bloggers, professional musicians and the CEO and chief communication officer of KODA. The two latter are, not entirely unpredictably, embarassing themselves by contradicting themselves AND each other and expressing great ignorance of the implications of ACTA. There’s so much text there’s no way I can translate all of it, but again: Might be worth a peek with Google Translate.

  13. February 20th 2012:
    Qu’est-ce Que Fück? accepts an invitation to play at the Stop Acta
    Demonstration in Aarhus, Denmark.

    As a newly started band Qu’est-ce Que Fück? saw this as a great opportunity to promote their music and support a good cause.

    February 22th 2012:
    Qu’est-ce Que Fück? is informed that the local police has told the musicians’ interest organization Koda about their performance on Februrary 25th.

    February 23th:
    Qu’est-ce Que Fück? is informed that Koda demands the organizers of the Stop Acta Demo to pay Qu’est-ce Que Fück? a minimum of DKR 4000 for
    their performance.

    February 24th 2012 pre-noon:
    Qu’est-ce Que Fück? phone Koda in order to ensure that Qu’est-ce Que Fück? can peform on feb 25th without problems for the organizers of the demonstration.

    Qu’est-ce Que Fück? Are told that there is no way they can be allowed to play for free, even when the band members suggest that Qu’est-ce Que Fück? can improvise the entire concert and thereby avoid any sort of eventual copyright infringements.

    February 24th 2012 noon:
    The organizers of the local Stop Acta Demo in Aarhus phone Koda, and are told that there is no way Qu’est-ce Que Fück? can be allowed to play unless the organizers pay a minimum of DKR 4000 to Koda, regardless what Qu’est-ce Que Fück?, that Koda claims to want to give the money to, say in the matter.

    February 24th evening:
    Qu’est-ce Que Fück? are told that they are banned from playing at the demonstration against the Acta treaty, since Koda will not accept the concert as neither a benefit nor a promo show and therefore there can be no free live music with Qu’est-ce Que Fück? or any other band for that matter.

    February 25th 2012:
    Qu’est-ce Que Fück? send an open letter to Stop Acta Aarhus, and the letter is read out loud on the demonstration.

    February 25th 2012: After repeatedly encouragement from listeners of the letter, Qu’est-ce Que Fück? decide to publish the open letter in Danish via the facebook
    profile of QFAC.

    February 26th Qu’est-ce Que Fück? release a French translation of the open letter via facebook.

    February 26th the Danish
    blogger Carsten Agger writes about the story on his blog:

    February 27th Qu’est-ce Que
    Fück? release the music video ‘Acta!’ on youtube as a protest against recent events.
    February 27th the story reaches the international blog BoingBoing:

    February 27th Afternoon:
    QFAC’s facebook profile has been deleted by facebook without any warnings or information.

  14. Qu’est-ce Que Fück?’s own translation of their original open letter (excuses for spamming, but hope to clear up some matters on behalf of the band).

    February 25th

    Open letter to: Stop Acta Aarhus
    From: Qu’est-ce Que Fück?

    Dear people of Aarhus against ACTA – or HOBAF that is the Danish acronym for the misleading ”Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”.

    We happily recieved an invitation from Stop Acta Aarhus, asking us to perform as musicians at the demonstration Today, February 25th 2012.

    We found that this was an amazing opportunity to share our music with others, as well as condemn this damn treaty.

    Apparently, it should not be so easy.

    Our so-called interest organization KODA and the police of Aarhus has done everything they could to prevent our performance today, and they succeeded.

    The demand from KODA to the organizers of the demonstration was that we should have a minimum of DKR 4000 (around $ 720) to perform today. Money that the organizers of Today’s demonstration naturally could not raise, since the demand was made yesterday, and, as we all know, you don’t make big bucks on organizing grassroot’s protests.

    We have tried to explain to KODA, that we wanted to play our own compositions for free, in order to support the demonstration, but we were not allowed to do so.

    Then we suggested, that we could improvise the entire concert, and thereby avoid any copyright related problems during the demonstration. This wasn’t a possibility either.

    We don’t experience that it is in our best interest to ban us from playing our music for the public!

    We are not artists due to treasure hunting and bureaucracy. We simply can’t help but creating music.

    Naturally we believe that all people are entitled to be paid for their work, and as performing artists we know that the problem does not lie in copies of our music or sharing of our videos on Youtube.

    We create our music to share it with the world, not to be gagged by a system that wants to hide us away, so they can claim to make laws and rules for our sake.

    We despite the ACTA treaty and find that this is the wrong way to go. We find that it is absurd to make more regulation, and continuously divide our common public physical as well as virtual space in minor units, that someone else profit on having the power over.

    We believe that we were banned from performing to Today’s demonstration against ACTA, because it would be just dreadful if somebody from this creative group that all politicians, profit-makers and bureaucrats in the world claim to protect, claim that their censorship and control does not serve our best interests.

    Instead of performing at Today’s demonstration, we will go in the studio and record a song where we will read parts of the ACTA treaty loud in French to musical improvisation.

    We hope that this recording will help to clear up how nonsense we find this treat – the expensive words and precious promises are pure nonsens for normal people like us, but after the last couple of days’ experiences with the already existing laws on the area, we can conclude, that the ones making big bucks on music are the ones who always make big bucks on music: It’s the industry, not the artists.

    If musicians want to avoid being butt-fucked buy people who want to exploit our talents, the solution is not the deny us the opportunity of playing concerts where we show our despite for politics that directly contradict our interests.

    The safest way for a musician not to be butt-fucked is not to sign a contract with a major label.

    If Denmark wishes to make radical changes in order to ensure artist’s income, we suggest that all major music companies pay a tax, and the money collected through this tax shall go to free rehearsing spaces, instruments, and studio equipment for musicians, so we can produce our own music!

    With Love,
    Qu’est-ce Que Fück? – Julie K & LoAH

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