ASCAP wants performance royalties from iTunes

Radio people know all about it. When a song is played on the radio – a public “performance” of music by an artist – that artist is entitled to a performance royalty. The artist gets paid a penny or two for each “performance” of their song and really, that’s the way most bands get paid, as their albums almost never really clear the cost of production.

But now ASCAP – the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers – wants to extend those same rights onto download sites like iTunes, Amazon and others. As the article below discusses, that idea has been scuttled by a lower Federal court and now the SCOTUS refuses to hear the case. Don’t think this will be the end of it, though.

Here’s the thing: its hard to imagine how buying a single MP3 differs from buying a CD, the process of which does not involve paying performance royalties. Spotify? Pandora? They probably should be paying performance royalties – I have no idea if they do.

Supreme Court Declines Music Download Case | Threat Level |

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

4 replies on “ASCAP wants performance royalties from iTunes”

ASCAP requires our small city to pay a licensing fee so that we can have free live concerts in our parks. BMI has come knocking on our door in the last year, requesting that we pay their licensing fee too. While, I support artists’ rights to be paid for their work, such fees for both would probably limit the number of free concerts (most likely the municipal band playing a Sousa concert) we could provide to one. So no one wins.

Yeah, its not a winning situation, though Souza? Isn’t his stuff public domain by now?

Not being a fan of copyright in general, I have to say that performance royalties are probably the one concession I’ll make, since it really is about corporations paying back the artists (most of the time). But this is just a money grab that’s well outside the norm. I also wish we could get more sane copyright laws so that private content producers like myself could actually license and use music covered by ASCAP, but good luck with all that!

I was mostly jesting about Sousa, although a typical municipal band concert in a city park could include something more mid-latter 20th Century if they’re doing Broadway show tunes. That stuff would NOT be in the public domain, so paying ASCAP (and/or BMI) means we keep Andrew Lloyd Weber happy for another year.

Our city attorney basically said, when BMI started coming after us, not to pay them. That we pay ASCAP already. I honestly don’t know what BMI can do against us since the guy harassing me with phone calls said, literally, that it’s just on our conscious if we don’t pay up. Of course, I’m sure they have more recourse when it’s a bar owner.

I don’t think you can get hit with a double-whammy like that. Seems like I read (a loooooong time ago, but still) that ASCAP and BMI are forced to share performance royalties wherever they get paid. But I could be wrong.

Either way, tell ’em to go piss up a rope. Its a free concert and there’s no compelling reason you should be paying either of them. The truth is: performance royalties are about *profit*. If you’re not making money (IE a free concert) then you’re not beholden to performance royalty.

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