ASCAP Aims To Implement License Fees For Ringtones

by Emilio Pérez Miguel on September 25, 2009

Today I came across this article when browsing through TechCrunch and I frankly thought it was something worth-sharing with everybody.

For those of you too lazy to click on the link and read the full story, it explains that the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) are insisting that cellphone ringtones should be deemed as public performances of music. Consequently, these “performances” should be accompanied by the paying of a license by the “public”.

This is a bit ill-founded for the reason that artists are already paid whenever their songs make it to ringtone form, and also for the reason that nobody needs a public license for sitting in the park in Summer with his friends blasting ”25 Or 6 To 4” or any other song we could think of.

Don’t get me wrong – as a lyricist, I am the first to stand up for the rights of composers and performers, even if I become the last man standing. The problem with the stance adopted by ASCAP is that (in my opinion) they have crossed the line when protecting oneself means an absolute divorce from the very interests of listeners, and interests that are not a fault to begin with. There is always a balanced stance, but they seem to have lost their bearings as regards this particular case, a case that joins the misstep of going against girl scouts for singing around bonfires.

What do you think? Is such a move really warranted? How could such an issue be approached if something had to be done? Let us all know in the comments.

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