Copyright and Cellphone tunes

The EFF report:

As we reported in June, ASCAP believes that when your cell phone’s musical ringtone sounds in a public place, you’re infringing . A federal court yesterday firmly rejected that argument, ruling that “when a ringtone plays on a cellular telephone, even when that occurs in public, the user is exempt from copyright liability, and [the cellular carrier] is not liable either secondarily or directly.”

The greed and stupidity of some is almost beyond comprehension.

The ruling is an important victory for consumers, making it clear that playing music in public, when done without any commercial purpose, does not infringe copyright. That’s thanks to Section 110(4) of the Copyright Act, which exempts public performances undertaken “without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage.” In the words of the court, “customers do not play ringtones with any expectation of profit.” This ruling should also protect consumers who roll down their car windows with the radio on,

No doubt they will propose you should have your car confiscated if you wind down your window, and allow people to hear the radio.

remember, ASCAP once demanded royalties from Girl Scouts for singing around the camp fire!

And this is why they are becoming so hated. They beat a retreat on that one at least, without going to court.

The court also found that cell phone carriers do not publicly perform when they download a ringtone to a phone (the carriers already pay 24 cents in royalties for the reproduction of the ringtone, but ASCAP was hoping to double dip by charging a public performance royalty on top of that).

This is key. They had been paid for use of the song as a ringtone. They wanted to also be paid if the phone rings in public!

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