Judge Tells ASCAP No Royalties For Ringtones

One of the weirder strategies by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) recently has been to claim that every time a ringtone played, a royalty should be paid. ASCAP sued AT&T earlier this year over the claim, but a federal judge has ruled that your phone ringing does not constitute a public performance.

The ruling may also affect another ASCAP lawsuit that’s even more ridiculous, reports Barb Dybwad at Mashable:

That means carriers won’t have to pay royalties on ringtone plays. It also has implications for another recent suit we reported on recently, in which the music industry is seeking royalties on 30-second song previews and performance fees for TV show downloads. Part of the language in the judge’s ruling also considered a ringtone download as not being a public performance either, which could set a precedent for the other suit in which ASCAP/BMI are seeking royalties on downloads.

Paying good money for a ringtone is stupid anyway. Symbian (i.e. Nokia) and Android phones should let you assign pretty much any common audio format as a ringtone. Here’s an info page for Android, and here’s how to make your own for an iPhone.

“Judge: No Royalties for Music Industry Each Time a Ringtone Plays” [Mashable via IntoMobile]
(Photo: quinn.anya)