District Court Tells Yahoo, AOL To Pay Millions To Songwriters

from the watch-for-the-appeal dept

In the latest of many arguments about the various rights and payments companies need to pay for streaming music online, a district court has ruled that AOL, Yahoo and RealNetworks most likely owe millions to ASCAP for songs that they streamed to users between 2002 and today (and continuing on to 2009). This has nothing to do with the record labels -- ASCAP represents the songwriters -- but is yet another extraneous "license" where the terms are hardly clear, but basically serve to make it more difficult for anyone to play music. It was never in question that these sites would need to pay some kind of royalty -- the question was how much. The odd part of this ruling, though, is that the rate set by the judge is likely to be higher than the rate that traditional terrestrial radio pays. If there ever were a formula for making companies less interested in streaming music online -- this might be it. Of course, it's quite likely that this ruling will be appealed, so it's far from over.

Filed Under: ascap, compulsory licensing, royalties, songwriters
Companies: aol, realnetworks, yahoo

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  1. identicon
    ehrichweiss, 1 May 2008 @ 5:49pm


    Can you then please tell us what incentive songwriters have to continue allowing others to play their songs if those writers don't actually perform? They could just as easily copyright them and sue the first person to infringe on that copyright. Oh wait, that's what the artists who play the songs do to people who infringe, isn't it.

    This isn't extortion. You aren't being forced to play someone else's song, you're doing it because you like it or it's popular or whatever other reason you come up with but regardless you chose to play it and you should pay the writer of the song though I would add the stipulation that you should only pay a percentage of your revenue so if you made $0, you pay $0.

    When you play a song you are, in essence, publishing a copy of that song and if I own copyright on it then I deserve to be paid for a few years(around 20-ish? but definitely not lifetime + 75 years) after initially copyrighting it otherwise we're going to lose writers of good songs and as it is, we don't have enough good songs.

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