ASCAP sues AT&T seeking royalties on ringtones heard in public

ASCAP sues AT&T seeking royalties on ringtones heard in public
ASCAP, the group that collects royalties for singers, songwriters and performers, has filed suit against AT&T claiming that the carrier should pay a royalty each time a ringtone, composed or performed by one of its' 350,000 members, is heard in public. The group says that a ringtone is a public performance.

Not so fast says the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF claims that a ringtone heard in a restaurant "without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage," is exempt from copyright law. The EFF goes on to complain that a court ruling in favor of ASCAP could raise consumer's costs and step over their rights. Filing a Friend of the Court brief, the group was joined by the Center for Democracy and Technology and Public Knowledge.

ASCAP says that they are not interested in getting paid from individual consumers, but instead, they want carriers like AT&T to pay for the ring tones claiming there is an infringement even with no commercial gain. AT&T and other carriers already pay royalties for the sale of the ringtone to a cellphone owner. It is the ringtone's usage that is at issue here and AT&T has requested a summary judgement in its favor. The performer's group has opposed that motion.

source: InfoWorld via MobileBurn

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