Nightlife patrons take to streets, march before GEMA

On Thursday, Sept. 8, Berlin’s club culture gathered again in protest of the new tariff structure proposed for 2013 by the GEMA, Germany’s only significant copyright management organization for musical works. Outrage and uncertainty have afflicted the nightlife community since the planned tax restructuring was announced. Club owners and patrons fear the significant rise in fees and drastic charges for particularly lengthy parties could have catastrophic consequences for the legendary Berlin club scene. For years, techno fans and other party devotees have flocked to Berlin for long, cheap nights of celebration. Unless a compromise can be reached, many fear those times will soon be over.

By police estimates, 850 protesters were encamped on the doorstep of GEMA by 6 p.m. on Thursday, at which point the protest mobilized, with an armada of lurid stereo-rigged trucks and a special fleet of SmartCars from legendary Berlin establishment Berghain. The protest moved from Wittenbergplatz over the Ku-Damm, picking up momentum and attention as it went.

KitKatClub owner Kirsten Krüger shared her fears for the future with Nomad News.

“One wouldn’t be able to go out cheaply in Berlin anymore, and the great thing about Berlin is, that you can go out without much money,” said Krüger. “Every month, with four days open [per week], I would have to pay GEMA 20,000 [euros]. And I can’t do that, nobody can. That means I have to seriously consider where the money is supposed to come from.”

Krüger hopes that the demonstrations, the petition and the increasing involvement of the public and Berlin’s politicians will suffice for an eleventh-hour compromise, in which GEMA would agree to delay the implementation of new tariffs until the inevitable appeals in court could be concluded. The legal wranglings could last several years. By that point, if the new tax structure is enacted in early 2013, Berlin’s club culture could be irreversibly altered.

Full interview with Krüger in original German:

Images from the demonstration:

Live music from the demo:

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