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German Clubs Pull Plug in Protest of Music Rights Hike

New tariffs will greatly increase charges for music use in Europe's biggest economy.

COLOGNE, Germany - Bars, clubs and discoteques across Germany shut down in protest shortly before midnight Saturday to demonstrate their opposition to plans by the country's music rights collection agency to change the way they calculate fees for music use. 

The GEMA agency says its new system of tariffs, which comes into effect in 2013, will lower the cost that smaller venues incur to license music while raising prices for bigger venues.

The new rights system will be based on both the size of the venue and the admission price visitors have to pay. Live concerts are exempted from paying GEMA fees.

According to GEMA, a small, 300 person capacity club charging a €3 cover would pay €90 a night under the new system, compared with the €193 fee it currently pays. In contrast, a high-end event with 1,500 guests paying €60 each would be required to pay €9,000, compared to less than €1,500 now. 

Opponents of the new system say the resulting price hike threatens the livelihood of clubs and discos across the country and could cost up to 100,000 jobs.