A Spanish court in Pontevedra has ruled in favour of the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE) against a café named Direccion000. SGAE initiated action against the cafe to claim royalties for de public performance of music in the locale, while the owners claimed that they did not have to pay because they were only using “free music” under Creative Commons licences.
The café lost the case in first instance and appealed on the basis that the locale has several signs claiming that they had permission to play free music in the establishment under the terms of CC licences. However, SGAE was able to prove that the music selection included artists under their representation.
Perhaps the most worrying paragraph from the case is that which describes the legal validity of CC licences presented as evidence. According to the court:
“…it is worth to point out that the document presented by the defendants-appellants as a licence for free use of music does not constitute anything other than a mere informative leaflet about its own content, lacking any form of signature, and therefore bereft of legal value whatsoever”.
I find this worrying because it seems to imply that CC licences are invalid without a signature, which would spell trouble for their legal validity in Spain. I would hope that the court was shown the human readable deed, and not the licence as such.
I do not have sympathy for the café owners as it seems to me that they were playing commercial music while advertising that the locale only played “musica libre”. Still, I am greatly concerned about wider potential implications with regards to CC contract formation (or licence formation where applicable).