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The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is one of three performance rights organizations (PRO) in America, along with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and the Society of European Stage Authors & Composers (SESAC).
It collects licencing fees from public users of copyrighted music created by its members and distributes them back to the members as royalties.
ASCAP as a membership of more than 400,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the U.S. along with representing many thousands of creators worldwide through agreements with international affiliates. They were the first performance rights organization in America to collect and distribute royalties for performances on the internet.
In 1996 ASCAP threatened lawsuits against camps of Girl Scouts of USA and Boy Scouts of America for copyrighted songs sang in the camps without licencing fees having been paid. The threats were later retracted.
Further criticism and controversy has followed and arose involving the organization.
In a court case in 2009 regarding use of ringtones it was claimed that ASCAP may want to to hold consumers responsible for fees for ringtone public performance.
The PRO also brought a lawsuit against a bar in Manhattan for unlicensed use of music. Bruce Springsteen was named as a plaintiff in the case without him having been informed on giving his consent.