WHO ARE WE?
SABAM is the Belgian Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers. We collect, distribute and manage (in the broadest sense of the word) all copyrights in Belgium and all other countries where reciprocal agreements have been negotiated (with our sister associations, i.e. other collection societies).
The collective rights organisation SABAM is a cooperative company with limited liability under Belgian law (CVBA/SCRL). Under no circumstance is it a ministry or a semi-public undertaking.
The organisation was founded in 1922 by a number of authors. Today, our members consist of thousands of artists from every artistic discipline imaginable. Although we are often primarily associated with music, we are proud of our multidisciplinary nature. This way, we represent composers, writers, publishers, playwrights, choreographers, directors, screenwriters, dialogue writers, broadcasters, subtitlers, translators, novelists, poets, comic book writers, illustrators, journalists, sculptors, painters, videographers, designers, photographers, graphic artists...
This makes our society almost unique in the world!
What is our mission?
SABAM documents the works of its authors, allowing it to collect and distribute the royalties each time a work from its repertoire is performed or displayed in public. You have to be a member to declare a work:
A creator is not obligated to become a member of SABAM in order to protect his works, as those are automatically protected under intellectual property law. An artist chooses to become a member in order to have SABAM manage his rights, i.e. to enable SABAM to collect royalties for the public use of his works on his behalf. In legal terms this is called a fiduciary assignment.
2. Declaration / documentation
The members’ works documented in our database constitute the SABAM repertoire. It includes works that were declared at foreign societies. The quality of this documentation is crucial to the proper functioning of SABAM, because it allows for a just collection for every public performance of a documented work and the correct distribution of the resulting royalties.
3. Collecting royalties
Royalties can be collected in two ways: through individual or collective collections.
In the former case, the performed works and their right holders (i.e. authors, publishers, heirs) are known in advance, as are consequently the collected amount and the amount to be distributed.
In the latter case, the performed works and right holders are not known in advance. Collective collections take place at restaurants, shops, cafés, media, etc.
4. Settlement of copyrights
After the royalties have been collected, they are settled or distributed. Again, we distinguish individual and collective distributions.
Royalties collected through individual or collective collections, are settled:
• in accordance with allocation keys determined in advance by the right holders (upon declaring their works);
• according to criteria established by the General Regulations of SABAM and approved by the General Meeting of its members;
• within periods of time that vary depending on the type of copyrights.