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ASCAP squeezes license fees for ringtone use from Verizon

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 25 Sep 2009 14:34 User comments (6)

ASCAP squeezes license fees for ringtone use from Verizon In yet another bizarre demand, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) is demanding that mobile operators pay licensing fees because their customers use ringtones. In a nutshell, according to ASCAP, when your mobile phone rings with a copyrighted ringtone, it counts as a public performance.
Even more bizarre is Verizon's agreement to pay $5 million to ASCAP as an interim license fee for ringtone use by its users. ASCAP is the same group that considers girl scouts singing around campfires as a public performance, so their latest assertion is only mildly ridiculous in comparison to that, but it did provoke the ire of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The EFF is urging a federal court to reject the "outlandish" claim made by ASCAP. Mobile carriers pay royalties for ringtones that they sell to their customers, but even in that case, ASCAP told a federal court that each time a phone rings and plays these recordings, the phone user is violating copyright law.

ASCAP said it has no intention or pursuing individual users for this "crime", but instead it will go after the mobile phone service providers that enable it. However, the EFF has warned that if ASCAP is allowed to prevail in this case, then other copyright owners would be free to go after individual users. Even just charging the mobile operator for the ringtone user by its customers will surely increase the cost for consumers, sets a very bad precedent and runs the risk of stifling innovation in the field.

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6 user comments

125.9.2009 15:37

this has been one of the most ridiculous demand ive seen on afterdawn for the past 2 years..and ive seen some s**t (as we all did).
first they take money when the companies sell the ringtone then they see it a crime that the ringtone is actually used?! or using their words "public performance"?! ITS A RING-TONE !!! what did you expect? that people who have ringtones will use earphones to know when someone is calling them?! you greedy good for nothing jackasses!!
i personally intend to find out where are their offices take a f***ing plane and leave a cheap 70$ phone in a brown bag playing ringtones in a loop and take a dump on top of the phone and a note will read "public performance. shut it off. i dare you"

225.9.2009 16:28

The one thing that makes no sense is a ring tone doesn't play the song in it's entirety so how can it be called a public performance,somebody shoot these idiots already

325.9.2009 20:40

Originally posted by scorpNZ:
The one thing that makes no sense is a ring tone doesn't play the song in it's entirety so how can it be called a public performance,somebody shoot these idiots already
Agreed. As a music artist myself, I know what kind of licensing and royalties composers/writers should expect. I GUARANTEE you that less than 1% of any additional 'performance' royalties will not make it back to ASCAP members.

If an artist/label is selling a CD/Download/RINGTONE, then you have only 1 type of royality, and thats called a mechanical royalty for the transactional sale. You get XX amount per unit sold. You can't then go BACK to the same consumers who bought your product and ask for performance royalties as they might have purchased it, but never have used it, or never used it outside of their own personal presence. (I've done this for weeks when I'm working a lot and have my phone on vibrate for 23 hours a day.)

426.9.2009 3:12

Maybe they should pay me for playing on MY mobile,which I OWN,and pay me for advertizing it to the public.

528.9.2009 14:19

The next, logical step is to go after someone with REALLY deep pockets. How about Sony, for boom boxes? If a ringtone is a public performance, certainly a boombox is. And audio splitters. And every speaker system for an iPod. They allow more than one listener, so that must be a public performance too.

61.10.2009 6:56

What a load of crap. Screw ASCAP!!!

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