Five-year 'experimental' rate deemed unhealthy for Pandora
In parallel with its attempt to lobby the US Congress for lower royalty rates on recordings, music streaming company Pandora Media is suing ASCAP, the organization that represents songwriters and composers, to seek lower licensing fees through 2015. Pandora is seeking a blanket licensing fee that would cover all songs, claiming that the current fees set a decade ago prevent profitability.
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.
Apple iTunes 90s deal done with majors, not indies
Apple's 90-second iTunes sample deal has already been reached with major music labels but is simply being pushed on indies, tips from the inside revealed today. EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner have all reportedly signed off so far along with some individual publishers, while the blanket notice to smaller labels was sent without them having reached an agreement. Labels talking to CNET couldn't provide detailed comment but, in two cases, agreed Apple was using hardline tactics by making labels automatically accept the deal just by staying in the store.
Court rebuffs ASCAP claim for music royalties
A Second Circuit Court of Appeals handed down mixed results for Internet music providers today in a ruling in New York. The appeals panel rejected claims by the royalty group ASCAP that downloads were live performances and said that transfers alone didn't amount to a public airing. Terms in the Copyright Act made it clear that a performance involved actual playback or a live show, none of which was guaranteed.
Apple said too hasty on iTunes sample length
Apple's plans for minute-long iTunes samples may have been thwarted by the sheer number of deals it needed, both official and unofficial sources divulged Tuesday afternoon. Although all the music labels themselves are still reported by CNET as onboard, Apple had yet to clear both Broadcast Music Inc.'s performance rights and the National Music Publishers Association's rights. The NMPA brought Apple's plans to a halt a day before last week's music event after lawyers told association CEO David Israelite that a formal deal was essential.
Ringtones not considered performances
A Southern District of New York federal court yesterday ruled (PDF) that ringtones don't constitute performances and so are exempt from separate royalties. The decision by Judge Denise Cote rejects beliefs by royalty group ASCAP that the carrier is responsible for royalties for any ringtone played in public and grants the complainant Verizon a summary judgment that the only valid royalty is the original for the music file itself.
Verizon pays ASCAP ringtone rights
Verizon on Thursday took preemptive action and paid the music royalty group ASCAP $4.99 million as an "interim" license for cellular ringtones on its V CAST service. The payment covers all ringtones bought since November 11th 2004 and is meant to temporarily settle the issue until the two settle a dispute over how much Verizon owes, if at all, for the short samples. It's unclear if the payment is reversible.
ASCAP, others want online performance fees
Music royalty groups ASCAP and BMI are pressing online music stores like Apple's iTunes to pay performance fees not only for actual song downloads but also videos and even the 30-second samples used to preview the music in advance. While these stores already pay the distribution fees for the songs themselves, ASCAP, BMI and labels claim that just downloading and playing the content also counts as a live performance and should bring an extra fee.