Digital Entertainment Vendors Fighting ASCAP

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Digital Entertainment Vendors Fighting ASCAP

Mon Sep 22, 2008 @ 10:21AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

The Digital Media Association (DiMA) and the National Association of Recording Merchandisers are interjecting themselves in a federal lawsuit and looking to clarify whether performance royalties are owed for 30-second previews on digital hubs like iTunes.

In the New York District Court case, ASCAP asserted that AT&T Mobility must pay performance royalties for digital transmissions of musical works to the public, such as ringtones. Some have construed this to mean that ASCAP seeks a piece of online music sales by demanding royalties on the short preview clips of music that are freely given before consumers purchase a full song or album.

Is that really ASCAP's position or is it only targeting digital transmissions used for public consumption? So far, the performance rights society hasn't responded, but DiMA isn't taking any chances, submitting an amicus brief that an online clip of a musical work is "fair use" and that paying ASCAP royalties here would destroy the burgeoning online music business.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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