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ASCAP Wants To Be Paid When Your Phone Rings 461

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-even-think-about-whistling-the-beatles dept.
gerddie notes a piece up on the EFF site outlining the fairly outlandish legal theories ASCAP is trying out in their court fight with AT&T. "ASCAP (the same folks who went after Girl Scouts for singing around a campfire) appears to believe that every time your musical ringtone rings in public, you're violating copyright law by 'publicly performing' it without a license. At least that's the import of a brief (PDF, 2.5 MB) it filed in ASCAP's court battle with mobile phone giant AT&T."
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ASCAP Wants To Be Paid When Your Phone Rings

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  • Someone... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Abreu (173023) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:22PM (#28430135)

    ...needs a cup of tea and a lie down

    • by severoon (536737) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:22PM (#28431173) Journal

      Another word for "composer" is "handicrafter." Another word for "publisher" is "typesetter." So ASCAP should change their name from "American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers" to "American Society of Skilled Handicrafting, Authoring and Typesetting Specialists."

      Short form: ASSHATS.

    • Re:Someone... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:43PM (#28433065)

      I got an email from ASCAP on this, since I am a member...

      Whether you are someone that is just starting out, struggling to get your music heard or an accomplished music creator with an extensive catalogue, nothing we do is more important than advocating for your copyrights and the livelihood that they can provide. No other performing rights organization is advocating across such a comprehensive platform as ASCAP, from legislative efforts in Washington to copyright education in American schools. Additionally, we've brought a dozen legal actions with digital companies whose business models do not include fair payment for the use of your music.

      You may see or read accounts of our legal actions from those arguing to limit your potential income. Not surprisingly, they misstate our efforts on your behalf. When it comes to the wireless carriers and ASCAP, here are the facts:

              * ASCAP is in Federal Rate Court with the two largest U.S. wireless carriers. We are seeking to ensure that they pay you a share of the substantial revenue they derive from content using your music. This includes the delivery of full track songs, music videos, television content, ringtones and ringback tones.
              * All this content generates revenue for the carriers, whether sold a la carte or on a subscription fee basis or bundled with voice, data and messaging services.
              * With respect to ringtones, ASCAP seeks to license the wireless carriers' transmissions of your music. ASCAP is not seeking to charge consumers. In fact, ASCAP has been licensing wireless carriers and ringtone content providers since 2001. Now, the carriers want to avoid that payment.
              * Wireless carriers make billions of dollars in a variety of ways from ringtones including per tone charges and multiple additional charges surrounding the transmission of ringtones. These billions are more than sufficient to cover a reasonable payment to ASCAP members and to allow the carriers an ample profit margin.
              * Bottom line, we are striving to license those that make a business of transmitting your music. This holds true for any medium where businesses have been built on the back of your music, whether terrestrial broadcast, satellite, cable, Internet or wireless carriers providing audio and video content. To be completely clear, our approach has always been to license these businesses, not to charge listeners.

      As ASCAP approaches the mid-point of 2009, we are gratified that more people choose membership in ASCAP than any other American performing rights organization. Nearly 100 new members are elected every day bringing our total membership to 360,000. Unlike the other U.S. performing rights organizations, we are a membership organization. As such, we have an obligation to represent all members in the pursuit of fair compensation for the use of their music.

      It really skirts around what's actually in the briefing. Basically ASACP is claiming that because AT&T controls the distribution, use, and "performance" (by triggering the ringtone when a call comes in) that they are responsible for public performance royalties.

    • Re:Someone... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by numbski (515011) <numbski.hksilver@net> on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @07:24AM (#28436965) Homepage Journal

      Hey, they're simply (continuing) to live up to their name!

      When I was in college (went to a small christian college in IL), the students were doing a self-led 10pm worship that was nothing but singing. I was the only guy on campus that owned an accoustic bass guitar, so I was asked to play along with the other guitarists, and agreed. We basically sang whatever praise and worship songs people started singing, and the guitarists went along with it and ad-libbed.

      Well - about 2 weeks after we started this, the college got a letter from ASCAP demanding performance payments. I kid you not - someone on campus turned us in. For doing praise and worship in a private group. The girl scouts around a camp fire at least is a large enough organization that I can almost see it, but someone on campus was just feeling spiteful, and even after explaining the situation ASCAP would not back down and threaten to sue us if we continued.

      So we couldn't do it anymore. :(

      Absolute idiocy. If ever a group was aptly named, ASCAP has done themselves a service at least in that department.

  • RIAA (Score:5, Funny)

    by arizwebfoot (1228544) * on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:22PM (#28430143)

    Even if ASCAP doesn't win, the RIAA will sue for your phone to see if you have any illegal downloaded ring tones.

    • Re:RIAA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:31PM (#28430297) Homepage Journal

      the RIAA will sue for your phone to see if you have any illegal downloaded ring tones

      To the RIAA, I say fucking bring it. They can search my phone every way they want they won't find any illegal music on there. Some of us use our phones for - can you believe it - communication, rather than entertainment. Hell I'll save them the time, then can send me the money they'd pay their assmonkey lawyer and I'll send them my phone in exchange. Then I'll take that money and buy myself a newer phone and send them a thank-you card.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Some of us use our phones for - can you believe it - communication, rather than entertainment.

        Incredibly narrow minded from someone on a tech site. Cellphones aren't just phones anymore. My phone has 5 megapixel camera, opera mini as browser and full Java support. And it's not a high end phone.

        I do use it to take pictures (including from political rallies to which I actively take part), SSH to my computer when I need to do something when on the road, check the latest news...

        And believe it or not, I don't want anyone to search it without a permission from a court.

        • Re:RIAA (Score:5, Funny)

          by geekboy642 (799087) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:01PM (#28430771) Journal

          My phone has 5 megapixel camera, opera mini as browser and full Java support. And it's not a high end phone. ... SSH to my computer ...

          My phone has none of that. Stupid cheap plastic junk. It does, however, have dozens of probably infringing ringtones. My favorite is a redub of Aerosmith's "Eat the Rich" that goes "Fuck the RIAA". The meter doesn't quite scan, but the point gets across.

        • Re:RIAA (Score:4, Insightful)

          by houstonbofh (602064) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:35PM (#28431413)

          Incredibly narrow minded from someone on a tech site. Cellphones aren't just phones anymore. My phone has 5 megapixel camera, opera mini as browser and full Java support. And it's not a high end phone.

          I do use it to take pictures (including from political rallies to which I actively take part), SSH to my computer when I need to do something when on the road, check the latest news...

          And believe it or not, I don't want anyone to search it without a permission from a court.

          And mine has all that as well, but all I use is the phone. All I want is a phone and bluetooth. The camera is useless since taking the pictures off the phone costs money. The net access is similarly castrated. Give me a good phone and a good computer, not a half assed version of both.

          • Re:RIAA (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Machtyn (759119) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:33PM (#28432961) Homepage Journal
            If you have to pay to use the bluetooth capabilities to interface with a $5.00 bluetooth USB adapter on your desktop or laptop, then you have the wrong phone.

            Similarly, I have a phone with an adequate camera, bluetooth, Internet capabilities and Java, but I only use the phone, text messaging and camera. The data plan is still too expensive.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by hack slash (1064002)
          Well my mobile phone doesn't have polyphonic or mp3 ringtones, doesn't have a camera, doesn't have GPS, doesn't have a touchscreen, doesn't have the ability to send/receive MMS, doesn't have a memory card slot, doesn't run linux, doesn't have a very good battery life.

          A mobile phone for me is an annoyance, I don't turn it on very often now because I've learnt that people keep phoning me asking for favours/help much more often than to see how I am/do I want to go to the pub etc. If I want to talk to people
      • Re:RIAA (Score:5, Funny)

        by Sponge Bath (413667) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:50PM (#28430641)

        Some of us use our phones for - can you believe it - communication

        But at some point you probably sung Happy Birthday to your child over the phone. As an unauthorized public performance that allows the RIAA to sell your children into slavery. This is all covered by the brief filed in their case "RIAA vs. All of Humanity".

        • Re:RIAA (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:30PM (#28432929)

          I've often thought that someone should come up with a Public Domain "Happy Birthday" song to replace the covered-by-copyright one. Since "Good Morning To You" (the song that Happy Birthday is based off of) is in Public Domain and is only 1 note away from Happy Birthday, we could base it off of "Good Morning To You." Of course, there would be more of a chance of the RIAA opening a torrent search site than of the new Happy Birthday song catching on.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by adminstring (608310)
            I just sing the words "Happy Birthday" over and over to the tune of "Oh Christmas Tree". That way there's no question that it's public domain. I figure if it's my birthday, I get to pick the tune, right?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by slash.duncan (1103465)

            For that matter, "We wish you a happy birthday" should work, with the "Merry Christmas" version apparently public domain (listed on CPDL.org, choral public domain library).

        • Re:RIAA (Score:4, Insightful)

          by RubberDogBone (851604) on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:14PM (#28433391)

          Don't put it past them. Soon enough, they'll go after anything with ears. Dogs can sort of sing. Cats sort of howl, sometimes musically. And songbirds! Holy crap, not only can they make loud musical performances in public, they can also hear songs on the radio, copy them, and add those songs to their performances!

          They also steal the sounds of ringtones, TVs, car horns, sirens, other birds, and they play them back constantly. And they migrate, thus violating regional copyrights and territory licensing. Sometimes people feed them too which is aiding and abetting!

          Face it, birds are the biggest thieves of music of all time.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by spikedvodka (188722)

        hey, if you're going to do that, at least quote the obligatory xkcd

        http://xkcd.com/479/ [xkcd.com]

    • by Valdrax (32670) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:39PM (#28430437)

      Even if ASCAP doesn't win, the RIAA will sue for your phone to see if you have any illegal downloaded ring tones.

      Well, I think the case begs an interesting question: If this isn't a public performance [bitlaw.com], then why not? Which exception [copyright.gov] governs it?

      I'm not an IP law student or lawyer, but I don't see an exception that governs this case. I'd imagine that determining when and how to bill when your phone rings in a situation that's sufficiently public would be nightmarish, but it seems like their case passes the laugh test.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ChrisMounce (1096567)
        You probably mean, "raises an interesting question". http://begthequestion.info/ [begthequestion.info]
      • by jd (1658)

        At that length, "fair use" probably applies. But as it is a private phone, it's not a public performance - the other listeners are eavesdropping and don't count.

        • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:57PM (#28431737) Journal

          It's a tricky issue. That said, ASCAP's position in this case seems to be utter crap in a lot of ways. For example, they claim that ringtones are streaming because like streaming, "AT&T maintains a continuous connection to your phone." Of course, none of the audio data is sent through that connection, which makes it decidedly not streaming. They're trying to twist this after having their backsides handed to them in another case in which music downloads were declared to not be a public performance.

          However, this case is not really about whether ringtones are a public performance. This case is because AT&T has been selling ringtones at extortionate prices under the premise that it covers a public performance license, but has never paid those licensing fees for all those ring tones. They've been pocketing the extra money above and beyond the usual cost of a digital music download. If you ever needed proof that AT&T are a bunch of leaches, you now have it. In order to bring this case to court, though, ASCAP has to get the courts to agree that AT&T triggering music that they explicitly sold as a ringtone constitutes a public performance by AT&T. That's a very tricky legal issue. They're right that it isn't the same as a download the moment AT&T triggers it. AT&T is also right that it isn't streaming.

          Ultimately, I suspect the courts will rule that it is public performance, but that it is public performance by an individual, at which point ASCAP will likely drop the issue. However, that will also open up AT&T to lawsuits by consumers who have been fraudulently overcharged for ringtones under the false belief that they were licensing the right to its use in a public performance. Either way, AT&T is potentially screwed because they didn't pay those fees. If, however, the courts rule that triggering the performance of a musical work constitutes public performance, then AT&T is screwed solely because they sold the music that was being used as a ringtone. In that case, AT&T would be legally better off opening up the phones for users to put in any arbitrary audio file as a ringtone. That way, at least in theory, they cease to be culpable.

          Either way the decision goes, there's next to no chance that this will impact the consumer in any significantly negative way, and a decision against AT&T might actually encourage them to open up their phones more. This is strictly a lawsuit filed by ASCAP against AT&T for breaching contracts by selling ringtones and then pocketing the licensing fees. Nothing to see here. Move along.

      • The silver lining? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Roger W Moore (538166) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:51PM (#28430647) Journal
        If a ring tone counts as a public performance then does playing it so loud on your earphones that everyone sitting nearby can recognize the tune also count? If so could ASCAP come after them as well....please!
      • by shentino (1139071) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:39PM (#28431493)
        Presumably the place that sold the ringtone to you gave you a license in the first place.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TemporalBeing (803363)

        Even if ASCAP doesn't win, the RIAA will sue for your phone to see if you have any illegal downloaded ring tones.

        Well, I think the case begs an interesting question: If this isn't a public performance [bitlaw.com], then why not? Which exception [copyright.gov] governs it?

        I'm not an IP law student or lawyer, but I don't see an exception that governs this case. I'd imagine that determining when and how to bill when your phone rings in a situation that's sufficiently public would be nightmarish, but it seems like their case passes the laugh test.

        While IANAL, I think it would go under the the intended use. While some people have specifically loaded MP3/RAW Media tracks/etc onto their phone for use, the number of people that only get their ringtone's form "official providers" (e.g. their phone service, etc.) and probably either purchase (or receive for free) the ringtones from that official service. Thus, if the service licensed the use of the media with the intent of offering on that service - which probably would have had to be in their contract -

      • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:12PM (#28431929) Journal

        I'm not an IP law student or lawyer, but I don't see an exception that governs this case.

        On the contrary, potentially both #4 and #5 cover such use:

        (4) performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work otherwise than in a transmission to the public, without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage and without payment of any fee or other compensation for the performance to any of its performers, promoters, or organizers, if --

        (A) there is no direct or indirect admission charge; or....

        ----

        (5)(A) except as provided in subparagraph (B), communication of a transmission embodying a performance or display of a work by the public reception of the transmission on a single receiving apparatus of a kind commonly used in private homes, unless --

        (i) a direct charge is made to see or hear the transmission; or

        (ii) the transmission thus received is further transmitted to the public;

        Where the exception in 5(B) says that commercial entities are not eligible for that exemption. In short, AT&T causing the public performance to occur is not exempt if it is shown that ringtones are public performances, but an individual installing a ringtone on a phone is exempt. AT&T would probably also be exempt if they hadn't sold the ringtones... but of course, they did.

        Like I said in another post, this case is about AT&T charging people extortionate fees for ringtones under the guise of it being required because of license fees, but then not paying those license fees. ASCAP is not trying to make individuals pay per play for ringtones.

  • by BitterOak (537666) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:23PM (#28430157)
    Does this mean if I have a radio with speakers in a public place I need to pay some kind of fee? I know that businesses which have radios that their customers can hear pay a license fee, but what about people, say, on the beach listening to a boom box? If they don't have to pay a fee, why should people with cell phones or their providers pay a public performance fee?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Mr2001 (90979)

      Does this mean if I have a radio with speakers in a public place I need to pay some kind of fee?

      Yes, it does.

      I know that businesses which have radios that their customers can hear pay a license fee, but what about people, say, on the beach listening to a boom box?

      Their situation is no different. The law doesn't distinguish between a business playing the radio and any other person playing the radio; you aren't exempt from the insane restrictions of copyright just because you aren't making money.

      Pretty fucked up, huh?

      The only reason that part of the law is (sometimes) enforced against businesses and never against people with boom boxes on the beach is that businesses are easier to keep an eye on and they tend to have more money.

      • by mr_matticus (928346) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:40PM (#28430453)

        Yes, it does.

        No, it doesn't.

        From 17 USC 110(5):
        [The following is not an infringement:] except as provided in subparagraph (B), communication of a transmission embodying a performance or display of a work by the public reception of the transmission on a single receiving apparatus of a kind commonly used in private homes, unless--
        (i) a direct charge is made to see or hear the transmission; or
        (ii) the transmission thus received is further transmitted to the public;

        Their situation is no different. The law doesn't distinguish between a business playing the radio and any other person playing the radio

        Sure it does, beyond a certain point. At the low end of the spectrum, there's no need to make such a distinction, because all parties are exempt who follow the rules.

        Once again, faulty and idiotic legal interpretations from the ignorant.

        ASCAP just wants money from the carrier's commercial ringtone sales. It's got nothing to do with anything else.

    • "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

      I'm pretty certain that the Framers didn't intend for your ringtone to be covered by copyright -- seeing as there's no way it can be considered to promote the Progress of either Science or useful Arts...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      Wait, this might be a good thing -- wouldn't you like to see all the a-holes that drive down the road with the volume on 11 pounding out the bass so load it makes their mirrors rattle get fined by ASCAP for their "public performance"? I sure would!
  • by taustin (171655) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:25PM (#28430195) Homepage Journal

    . . . why these people have not been struck by a meteor. If there were a God in this universe, there would be a meteor.

  • Suck it, ASSCRAP. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mix+Master+Nixon (1018716) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:25PM (#28430199)

    Fine, you pricks. We'll stop providing you with free exposure for your shitty music. Happy now?

  • by Anenome (1250374) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:26PM (#28430213)

    Part of the problem is the doctrine that if something isn't actively and legally pursued and protected, you've given up your rights on it. This is what causes companies to send 'cease & desist' orders to fan websites and the like. That's what causes companies to sue the Girl-scouts.

    The idea behind preventing public performance, and the like, is to prevent profiting from a public performance. There's no way that ASCAP can prove that someone's profiting from a cellphone ring-tone going off. They may be able to extract cash from clothing stores that play tunes while people shop, but this one is definitely going too far.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You are obviously not an attorney and obviously have no legal training, so why don't you not comment on things you know nothing about. Only trademarks can suffer from genericide. Copyright holders can and do selectively choose what to enforce and it has no impact on their rights. A copyright holder could sit back, watch a million people infringe its work but sue you for it cause they felt like it. The only impact it possibly could have is on damages, but even then we have the lovely statutory damages an

    • by Tx (96709)

      The reason they are going after this one is not to extract money from the end users. Selling ring-tones is an extremely profitable business, and they want a (bigger) cut of that cash. If they can get this upheld in theory, they will then look to extract the fee from the ring-tone vendors, telcos etc. At least, that would be my guess.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sjames (1099)

      Two key notes here. First, that's trademark, not copyright. ASCAP has nothing to do with trademark enforcement.

      Two, trademark holders don't HAVE to act like assholes to defend their mark. They CAN license it for a penny to the person who's using it harmlessly and it is still defended against infringement (it's not infringement if it's licensed!).

  • Perhaps they should realize they already sold 'ringtone rights' and that the very term 'ringtone' denotes a public performance in their eyes..you can't tell someone they need x license to do y, but then say that x license is invalid for the purposes of y.

  • No Ringtones (Score:4, Informative)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:29PM (#28430243) Homepage

    Yet one more reason to avoid ringtones.

    Not saying they are correct, just that I hate being forced to listen to someone's obnoxious music every time their phone rings.

    Besides, even if it does count as a performance... doesn't selling a license to a song as a ringtone imply the right to use the ring tone without paying each time?

  • They gonna come after me when I've got my car stereo cranked and the windows down?

    I know the people driving around me probably should, but is that really a "public performance?" A ringtone is no different than playing a stereo. It just goes off when you're not expecting it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Lunoria (1496339)

      They gonna come after me when I've got my car stereo cranked and the windows down?

      I know the people driving around me probably should, but is that really a "public performance?" A ringtone is no different than playing a stereo. It just goes off when you're not expecting it.

      I really would prefer it if you people could just turn your music down. I don't care if you want to destroy your eardrums listening to crap. I just don't want to hear music so loud it drowns out normal conversations from people on the street.

      • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:40PM (#28431515) Homepage

        Then you need to be at city hall with other residents demanding the city noise ordinances get passed.

        WE had that problem here. They passed an addendum that made it a $100.00 fine to have your stereo cranked in a residential area,It is specifically for noise levels and covers motorcycles without mufflers and other noise makers. $100.00 for the first fine and $1000.00 for a repeat offense. The city is really hard up for cash so the cops are actually enforcing everything they can and they nailed several stupid kids on it, plus a chain of other tickets as they can give you one for nearly anything. word got out fast and now it's quiet again in the neighborhoods.

        Even the idiots on the harleys stopped riding in 1st at 1/2 throttle just to be dick-heads. they now putt quietly through the neighborhoods.

        note: if your bike is so crappy that you have to keep blipping the throttle when you are stopped, get it fixed or buy a bike that can idle. I'm a motorcyclist and even I cant figure that one out other than trying to be a jerk.

  • Copyright law... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Manip (656104) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:30PM (#28430279)

    Copyright law needs a review across the board. By which I mean on an international level.

    Here is my short list:
      - Licences across borders has to be easier
      - Software Patents should be revoked (in the US et al)
      - Patents should be 70 years or 30 years after the creator's death
      - Public performance should have "fair use" exclusions
      - Heck, all copyright should have "fair use"
      - Damages should be limited to value (e.g. 100% of damages, not 10,000%)

    I'm sure there are other things. But frankly the copyright system as it stands is broken. When web-sites have to buy highly expensive licences in dozens of states and companies are winning millions for a few MP3s something is wrong.

    • Copyright law needs a review across the board. By which I mean on an international level.

      Yup. When I see cases like the one posted above I start thinking that the middle ages were quite liberal when compared to what some copyright holders are asking for.

    • Re:Copyright law... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:45PM (#28430537)

      -Patents should be 70 years or 30 years after the creator's death

      How about not? Make them 10 years. You have 10 years to cash in on your ideas. You want to screw the whole world over in a fit of selfish "VIEW ME AS THE ARTIST I AM!" tantrum, enjoy your 10 years, but the government should not support you after a decade of your decadence. This isn't the industrial revolution or some atomic age. This is the information age where ideas are a dime a million. Today, unlike 20 years ago, everyone has access they need to sell an invention within a few days. Exposure is almost instant, and someone will do it better than you did in one year or less, anyway.

      • You have 10 years to cash in on your ideas. You want to screw the whole world over in a fit of selfish "VIEW ME AS THE ARTIST I AM!" tantrum, enjoy your 10 years, but the government should not support you after a decade of your decadence.

        The number of people who earn enough money through their patents to be considered decadent is quite small. Patents are supposed to protect people like you, who come up with a great idea, from companies like Microsoft who can steal it and cost-lead your product until you g

      • Today, unlike 20 years ago, everyone has access they need to sell an invention within a few days. Exposure is almost instant, and someone will do it better than you did in one year or less, anyway.

        Inventions are different than creative works, but even then, with short terms of protection, there's the problem that any invention that will be bought will have to be valuable enough to the new owner that they can make more off of buying related patents in the near term than they could just waiting 10 years for t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drsmithy (35869)

      Patents should be 70 years or 30 years after the creator's death

      There is no justification for patents (or copyrights) to last an instant past the inventor's death.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ChefInnocent (667809)
        Sure there is; otherwise, assassinations would rise tremendously.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by drsmithy (35869)

          Sure there is; otherwise, assassinations would rise tremendously.

          Why ? Where's the value in an invention that is no longer patent protected ?

          No to mention - MURDER IS ALREADY ILLEGAL

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by copponex (13876) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:32PM (#28430315) Homepage

    The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufacture, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens. The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.

    -Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

  • Seriously who comes up with this idiotic nonsense. All that will happen is that consumers will spend less money on their music.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:34PM (#28430363)

    I'm an independent musician, and hate the RIAA, but ASCAP is more of a musician's union than anything else. They are one of the only groups that truly helps artists get paid for their work, in situations where money is already supposed to be set aside for the artists themselves. I have made a fair bit of cash in royalties from tracks that have appeared on networks like VH1 and A&E -- that is money that would have never been reported to me otherwise. If some network wants to use my track in some show, and generate advertising money off of it, then I think the artist deserves their rightful share. FYI: I am not signed to a major label, and I don't have the resources or connections that those acts have. They also help in situations such as radio reporting in places where I don't even speak the language -- as one example, they discovered my music playing on a commercial radio station in eastern Poland, and were able to retrive the royalties I had earned.

    So, please don't instinctively tar them with the same brush as the idiots at the RIAA. I don't agree with everything ASCAP does, but in general they are a positive force for trying to help the actual creators of content, not the big labels and corporations.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MrMista_B (891430)

      Yeah, 'help' the creators of content, by preventing people from listening to it.

      Sorry, but fuck the ASCAP, they're at least as bad if not worse than the RIAA. And if you /support/ anti-artist organizations like the ASCAP, then I look upon you with suspicion.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jaime2 (824950)

      ...to retrive the royalties I had earned...

      Exactly what did you do to earn those dollars from the performance in Poland? Had they not played the music, would you have more free time to be with your family or to produce more music? Don't get me wrong, I'm for the fair compensation of artists. However, I believe that society should choose to provide incentives for artists to continue producing works of art. This is a willfull decision to give people a means to live (money) even though they don't produce anything that is physically valuable to soc

  • by Photo_Nut (676334) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:35PM (#28430381)

    This has got to be the dumbest thing I've heard.

    Next, they will sue any device capable of making sounds in public. Phones are just the beginning, how about iPods, car makers, "boom box" (portable stereo system) makers. While I'd love it if the guys blasting their audio in their car would stop the noise pollution when I'm in their vacinity, I don't think suing them for publicly performing a copywritten work will effect change... And I don't think AT&T is to blame here.

    Copyright is a temporary monopoly given to content creators on their works so that they can earn money without being ripped off. It is not intended to be used to stranglehold any company making a device which can play a sound to pay an extortion fee to a group representing content creators.

  • by electricprof (1410233) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:40PM (#28430447)
    I once fell down the stairs and the next day I recieved a bill from ASCAP and RIAA for performing a Lars Ulrich drum solo ... ok, maybe I do mean to be ridiculous.
  • by newgalactic (840363) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:41PM (#28430467)
    Do we just let AT&T and ASCAP fight this one out? This is like Iran and North Korea going at it.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:43PM (#28430489) Homepage Journal
    Initially I thought they were on crack. Then I realized what would happen if they actually won. Consider the implications for a minute or two and then see if you don't agree...
  • As far as I can tell, this is simply a temper tantrum because the middle men are not getting their cut. The dollar ring tones seems to be the primary method in which catalog tracks can make money, now that no one has to replace worn plastic. Someone really should have figured out a way to pay off the these people. It is just like renting music. The RIAA does not really care if anyone makes any money off it, as long as they get their cut. And when someone seems to making too much money, the come in to f
    • by DynaSoar (714234)

      As far as I can tell, this is simply a temper tantrum because the middle men are not getting their cut.

      Almost. Swap in "in house attnorneys" for "middlemen" and you're a lot closer. Several such agencies are held hostage by attorneys claiming they have to pursue every tiny possible infringement. The fact is the decision is being made by those who stand to earn pay on action taken whether they win or lose.

  • Would this apply... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Monday June 22, 2009 @06:46PM (#28430553) Journal

    Would this apply even if your ringtone is an illegally downloaded MP3 (like with my, uh, friend's phone)? It's kind of Al Capone having to pay taxes on money he got from drug trafficking.

    (Actually, strange as it may sound, in the US one is supposed to pay taxes on illegitimately acquired income)

  • by al0ha (1262684)
    I for one think this is a very clever approach to earning more money off of a single product in a purely capitalist society.

    Bogus; but clever.
  • If I were a plumber, and I installed a toilet, I don't get paid every time someone takes a dump. If I designed a toilet, ditto. If I own a patent on some new-fangled kind of super-toilet, ditto. So do other creative professions seem to think that they deserve to get paid every time their work gets used...?
  • How about I write and record a song with a chorus of "Fuck you ASCAP, lamest member of the mafIAA". Then I'll cut out the chorus, make it available as a ringtone. People can download it, others can hear it and notify ASCAP. If they choose to pursue, we can waste a great deal of their time and money before I decide it's public domain. If they choose not to, they'll be pursuing selectively, disproving their standing as supporting any song writers.

  • Surely, for the sake of reason, "Public performance" constitutes use by a commercial body of some form? (e.g. shopping centres, radio stations etc.) Otherwise there are millions of possible scenarios (which are completely inane from a copyright/licensing POV) where it could inadvertently happen - loud music from someone's car, a person having their MP3 player music very loud and hence audible...

    If the court / legal bodies "buy" this kind of thing as being a violation, it's going to open the floodgates for a

  • (to be posted on NotN [today.com] tomorrow, probably)

    The American Super-Society of Composers and Performers has filed a brief in a lawsuit against AT&T arguing that its members deserve payment every time a mobile phone rings.

    The owners of the musical compositions are already paid for each ringtone download, but this does not cover ASSCAP public performance royalties.

    "The musicians and songwriters are the true creators of objective value in society," said ASSCAP spokesdroid Ayn Rand. "They deserve your support. How would civilisation survive without Crazy Frog or the Nokia Tune?

    "To this end, we are bringing suits against those individuals who, having purchased RIAA-licensed ringtones, do not then silence them when in public. Statutory damages of $80,000 should have a salutary effect on our coffers and, of course, our public image."

    Further lawsuits will then be brought against those who silence their mobile phones. "4'33' by John Cage is a copyrighted work. Without the money going to his estate, he may never write another measured piece of silence again."

  • Performance (Score:3, Funny)

    by blamanj (253811) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:26PM (#28432877)

    If ASCAP really believes that ringtones constitute a performance, then surely they won't mind standing between any decent rock band and their fans when the band comes out and only performs 16 bars of all their hit songs.

  • by smchris (464899) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:59PM (#28433263)

    For the joy your friggin' phone is bringing to those around you when it goes off? ASCAP should be forced to set aside a fund to pay _US_.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:50AM (#28434847)

    Such harebrained ideas are only hatched because they're used to getting away with ludicrous claims and actually getting what they want.

    Copyright claims have left the borders of sanity. Actually they lept over it by some margin. Copyright was about creating a balance between creators and consumers of content. It's anything but this today.

    It's time to get back to sensible copyright. Either that or a battle will ensue that the rights holders cannot win. They depend on income from content consumers. Content consumers, otoh, can live well without the content.

  • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:14AM (#28439319)

    Ok, I'm a bit bothered by how many responses here are going along the lines of "ASCAP are evil IP mongers who I'd normally want to fight against, but I personally don't like others' ringtones, so I don't mind so much".

    HYPOCRITES!

    If you don't like obnoxious ringtones (obnoxious is usually defined as 'stuff that isn't coming from your phone' of course), then fine, discuss noise pollution or novel technical means to battle them. Whatever... just don't be a hypocrite and decide that its ok to let the ASCAP be douchebags to someone else just because you happen to agree with the side-effects of their douchbaggery. If you do that, you're no better than the folks who claim to be pro-life, but then applaud the murder of a doctor who performs services they don't like.

    Just for the record, I'm not saying this to be a troll. I seriously feel this way. Yes, I am often annoyed by others' obnoxious tones, but supporting the ASCAP or the **AA in this one instance would be really shortsighted and hypocritical.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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