Digital Entertainment Vendors Fighting ASCAPMon 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.