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. icon
    Mike (profile), 4 May 2008 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Weasley little sneak thieves STFU!

    You're right: society and gov't are not charged with the duty to find business models that promote music. But that is not the point. Gov't chooses to do so because they feel that it is in society's best interests to promote literary and musical culture.

    But what if the research shows the opposite is occuring, and that by creating artificial scarcity, the gov't is *shrinking* the market?

    By the way, if there are "plenty of perfectly reasonable business models," then feel free to spout of a few examples.

    There's a wonderful thing called the search engine. It's up in the right hand corner, and you can find plenty of examples that we've listed out over the past decade.

    Here are a few starting points (and note that there are many, many, many more where this came from):

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20030912/1032238.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/ 20070503/012939.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20050214/1311237.shtml
    http://www.techdirt. com/articles/20080115/095022.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080304/162842435.shtml
    http: //www.techdirt.com/articles/20041230/1415204.shtml

    The business models work. Many musicians are putting them in place and discovering it increases their ability to make money -- and to do so in a way that grows their audience and makes their fans more loyal.

    What's your problem with that?

    If songwriters are not capable of making a sufficient amoutn of money in their profession, isn't it logical to conclude that they will choose a different profession, thereby lowering the population of songwriters? How is that so incorrect?

    What's incorrect is the false assumption that songwriters wouldn't be capable of making sufficient amount of money. If every other aspect of the music industry is doing better than ever before in history (as it is), then there will be tremendous demand for good songwriters. The business models that will pay those songwriters will quickly follow. Read your Coase...

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