ASCAP Loses Its Anti-Digital Music Lawsuit

image from www.americansongwriter.com The Second Circuit appeals court has ruled against ASCAP and determined that music downloads are not a 'public performance' under copyright law. Thus, the streaming music royalty rates that Yahoo, Real and others pay to the performing rights organization have been overturned and are being reexamined. For now, they only have to pay for creating copies of music, but ASCAP may continue their battle.

ACAP noted in a memo that they're disappointed about the ruling and are restrategizing. Yahoo, on the other hand, is quite pleased that ASCAP's money grab didn't work out and is hoping for "the establishment of a truly reasonable royalty license rate that properly accounts for music use on its services."

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  1. Your brief article says the court ruled that “downloads are not “public performances”; and then says “Thus, the streaming music royalty rates… have been overturned”. A download is a permanent or semi-permanent transfer of music ( a sale/purchase). Streaming is a live feed, like radio, but through a digital line/broadcast. Perhaps your article is too brief to explain how the two were connected by the court but there seems to be in error in vocabulary that makes the report unclear. Please do clarify. Thanks.

  2. Now pay very close attention. 🙂
    In “streaming,” a pattern of bits which represents the music is transmitted from a centralized server to the user’s computer.
    In “downloading,” a pattern of bits which represents the music is transmitted from a centralized server to the user’s computer.
    Allegedly the distinction is that “streams” are not meant to be retained, while “downloads” are. However, this distinction depends entirely on the receiving computer to enforce, and is pretty simple to subvert.
    IANAL, but my recollection is that ASCAP argued that the transmission of bits to the computer warranted a performance royalty, so that a download would owe both a copying royalty and a performance royalty. In the pre-digital era, it was pretty well agreed that a musical representation could be either a performance or a sold copy, but it couldn’t be both.
    I’ll restate my observation: over ten years into the “digital music” era and different parts of the industry are still arguing over what, exactly, is being sold.

  3. I would not say that making these companies pay out to PROs is anti-digital music in any manner. It’s just another avenue that should be explored for those who own compositions. In my opinion because most artists on any kind of label don’t own the rights to the masters but rather the compositions themselves (making it impossible to get paid by Sound Xchange), this lawsuit makes sense as a method to promote artistry in the digital age. Poorly titled article…

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