THE US SUPREME COURT has ruled that downloading music does not constitute a public performance.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) argued that downloading music legally constitutes a public performance, thereby allowing it to collect royalties. The US Supreme Court ruled that ASCAP's interpretation of a section of the Copyright Act was incorrect.
As Reuters reports, ASCAP said that the Copyright Act stated that by reciting, rendering, playing, dancing or acting a work directly or by any device or process, the 390,000 musicians it representatives are entitled to royalties. However the court ruled, "Music is neither recited, rendered, nor played when a recording (electronic or otherwise) is simply delivered to a potential listener."
The US Supreme Court ruling means that ASCAP's ability to collect royalties could be severely undermined. ASCAP claims that it licenses close to half of all music that is online and collects close to $1bn in royalties annually, distributing the vast majority of that money back to its membership.
Although ASCAP is perhaps on the nicer end of the MAFIAA operation - it is a non-profit organisation - it has taken an aggressive stance on internet music playback, rebuffing sharable copyright terms such as Creative Commons licensing. However its attempt to classify legal music downloads as public performances did not wash with the Supreme Court and could even lead to a decrease in the cost of online music. µ
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