Judge Shoots Down ASCAP’s Digital Downloads As Performances
Judge William Conner from the US Register of Copyrights shot down ASCAP’s idiotic attempt to classify digital downloads as performances. In a pure demonstration on how desparate the music industry has become, ASCAP wanted to have the Register of Copyrights declare that digital downloads were actually performances of a song to score an extra royalty.
This stupid reclassification was being aggressively pursued by ASCAP, a performance royalty collections society. Several media companies protested the proposal, characterizing the extra demand an ill-conceived “double dip” alongside existing per-download payments. “ASCAP’s assertion … that digital distributions of music and video are also public performances confounds legal, business and technological reality,” said Jonathan Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association (DiMA), a group that represents companies like RealNetworks, AOL, and Yahoo.
In the decision, the court similarly found it difficult to apply a performance right to the discrete download of a media file. “Although we acknowledge that the term ‘perform’ should be broadly construed … we can conceive of no construction that extends it to the copying of a digital file from one computer to another,” the court opined. The decision comes years after the advent of the paid download, part of a dragged-out, contentious climate between a number of stakeholders in the digital media arena. That acrimonious tone was glaringly apparent during debates Tuesday at the annual Digital Summit in Nashville, TN, a conference that featured heavy verbal sparring between members of the recording, publishing, streaming radio, consumer electronics, and entertainment ecommerce sectors.
More information on the US Register of Copyrights Descision Against ASCAP.