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Intellectual Property Law

No Royalties for Ringtones, Judge Rules

Posted Oct 16, 2009 7:15 AM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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Dismissing a music industry copyright claim, a federal judge has ruled that a ringing mobile phone is not the same as a portable concert.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, known as ASCAP, was attempting to collect more royalties from individuals who already pay ringtone royalties when they buy ringtones, Wired reports on its Threat Level blog.

Threat Level notes that "While ASCAP’s much-ridiculed argument in the case was a legal long shot, copyright chaos might have ensued had the royalty-collecting group actually prevailed."

“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,” Fred von Lohmann, a copyright attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote on the EFF's Deeplinks Blog.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote held (PDF) that “ASCAP has not shown any infringement of its members’ rights by the playing of ringtones in the public from Verizon’s customer’s telephones.”

Also see:

New York Law Journal: No Added Royalties for Use of Ringtones in Public Places, Federal Judge Rules

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