Printed from

Supreme Court denies ASCAP claim downloads are performances

updated 09:05 am EDT, Tue October 4, 2011

Supreme court rejects ASCAP attempt at double-dip

The US Supreme Court late Monday rejected ASCAP's attempt to claim that song downloads are public performances. Its verdict upheld an earlier appeal ruling without added comment. The earlier, federal-level judge pointed to basic logic for support, contending that a digital recording isn't necessarily being played live to a wide audience just because it had been transferred over the Internet.

The new decision also enforces the previous appeals court's view that RealNetworks (having split off its Rhapsody music service) and Yahoo can ask for lower royalty rates. It may also affect an earlier demand that charged Verizon $5 million simply for offering ringtones.

ASCAP has tried to argue that it's losing millions of dollars in royalties if denied the rates. Music stores and critics alike have responded by accusing the performance society of trying to double-dip for its artists, letting them charge once for the music itself and again for the choice of format even though it's no different in practice than buying a CD.

The Supreme Court verdict could have a significant benefit for iTunes, Amazon MP3, and other stores or streaming music services. Along with keeping prices down on tracks, it should end disputes over whether 90-second song samples constitute performances.

By Electronista Staff
Post tools:




  1. PJL500

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2011


    music industry kicking and screaming

    into the internet age.

    They think that thousands of middlemen should continue become millionaires on the backs of artists. They have managed to put fear into "established" artists, who were lucky enough work in an age when it was *very* lucrative to sell CDs in shops. Guess what? Successful artists are going to make a very comfortable living now - but the Bentleys and multiple mansions will no longer be automatic.

  1. kerryb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001


    who thinks up this c***?

    under this logic, when I buy a music CD leave a shop and walk home I should pay for the public performance of that CD. Maybe they could get royalties from blank CD's as well as in France.

  1. jeb20

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008



    Going after iTunes is a waste. They should be going after hulu crackle etc. Those places have legitimate performances as they show commercials. It's a no brainer. The fact that they went after iTunes really shows just how clueless the leadership at ascap is. Forget all that getting rich bullish*t. A stream with commercials is a performance, a download is not... period.

  1. BigMac2

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Dec 2000


    ASCAP are full of...

    ASCAP made more money on 99cents per song than selling physical CDs. Apple should open up to indie artiste and have a program like their developer program who just need to subscribe to the 99$ annual fee for being able to sale stuff thru the AppStore. Music artiste should be able to bypass ASCAP and sold their creation directly to customer without any intermediate.

Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.


Network Headlines


Most Popular


Recent Reviews

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (Early 2015)

Although the new darling of the Apple MacBook line up is the all-new MacBook, Apple has given its popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with Ret ...

Seagate Wireless

It seems like no matter how much internal storage is included today's mobile devices, we, as users, will always find a way to fill the ...

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 (Android, 10.1-inch)

Lenovo is building a bigger name for itself year after year, including its devices expanding beyond desktop computers. The company's l ...



Most Commented


Popular News