ASCAP Tries To Qualify Digital Downloads As Performances
Online Music Stores Protest ASCAP’s Idiotic Money Grab
Apple, AOL, and Yahoo! have battled against an effort to qualify paid downloads as a public performance. The group, represented by the Digital Media Association (DiMA) filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief opposing a claim by ASCAP that digital music downloads should be counted as performances.
This May, ASCAP will try to convince a federal court that the transfer of a digital file, even if that file is never opened, constitutes a public performance and thus is subject to additional licensing fees and royalties.
DiMA’s consortium of online music providers deemd that assessment “double dipping,” and alleges that fees are already being paid through traditional channels. In the brief, DiMA denounced the claim and called for the court to reject it. “ASCAP’s assertion in federal court that digital distributions of music and video are also public performances confounds legal, business and technological reality,” said DiMA executive director Jonathan Potter.
ASCAP’s assertion that a download is a public performance demonstrates how desperate these organizations are for any kind of additional incoming revenue. The current trial was initiated by ASCAP, pursuant to a US Government decree to set reasonable royalty rates between the association and several online vendors. The DiMA brief follows opposing submissions by other organizations, including the RIAA and wireless group CTIA. Additionally, several other organizations co-signed the DiMA filing, including the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).