The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is pushing to receive royalties for ringtones played in public.
ASCAP claims that ringtones that sounds in public constitutes a public performance, a categorization that is beyond the purchased rights of those who have legitimately purchased a ringtone. If ASCAP wins, you, or your telco would have to pay a royalty every time your phone rang using a musical ringtone outside your own home. Did I mention we’re not making this up.
The EFF is dutifully on the case, and is arguing that if the incidental mobile phone playback of a short snippet in a public place were viewed as a “public performance” the Copyright Act has a specific exception, 17 U.S.C. 110(4), that covers performances made “without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage.” The EFF also notes (and again, we’re not making this up) that if ASCAP were to win, playing your car radio with the window down could also constitute a public performance as well.
The greed of the music industry continues to have no bounds. The EFF has more details here, and a copy of ASCAP’s brief as follows: