by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 3:55pm
Ah, ASCAP. The music collection group that keeps getting more and more desperate, seems to have finally and completely lost its quixotic attempt to claim that a music download represented a "public performance," which required a separate license, beyond the mechanical reproduction license. The group had been in a legal fight with Yahoo and Rhapsody over whether or not those companies had to pay extra to songwriters (whom ASCAP represents) in addition to the money they were already paying to license songs from the record labels for downloads. The district court sided with ASCAP and presented a bizarre formula involving a percentage of all revenue (such that Yahoo would have to pay some of its search revenue to ASCAP for no clear reason). Thankfully, an appeals court overturned the ruling, noting that a download is not a public performance, and that the bizarre calculation rate didn't make much sense. ASCAP (of course) appealed to the Supreme Court, which has declined to hear the case, meaning that the appeals court ruling stands. This isn't a definitive rejection of "download = public performance," as technically, it's just the law in the Second Circuit. In theory, some other Circuit could rule otherwise, and create a circuit split for the Supremes to look at. But, that's probably unlikely, and it's most likely that this ruling effectively makes it clear across the country that a download is not a public performance. As it should be, because it's not.
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