No extra royalties for play-and-save downloads

Scott Jagow Apr 26, 2007

SCOTT JAGOW:In the music biz, there are two kinds of royalties: You have copy and distribution rights — that’s when a CD is copied or a song is downloaded — and you have performance rights — songs played on the radio and streaming on the Web.

But you can download a song and play it at the same time. So the royalties group ASCAP sued over this, and we just got the decision. Susan Butler is with Billboard Magazine. Susan, explain what ASCAP wanted.

SUSAN BUTLER:The position of ASCAP was that, since this happens — since you can listen to it as it’s being downloaded — we think that’s a performance to the public and we think that there should be, in addition to the royalty for a copy and a distribution, we think there should also be a performance royalty. And the judge here said no.

JAGOW:So who does this affect mostly?

BUTLER:It affects the digital services who would not then have to get a licence from ASCAP and pay an additional royalty for that performance.

JAGOW:So you’re talking about Apple (and) iTunes?

BUTLER:Yes. And AOL. I think the whole reason this is brought up is because more and more television programs that have music are being downloaded. And I think there was a concern that a television broadcaster may re-broadcast these television programs and pay another performance fee for the re-broadcast of that television program.

If they’re only being downloaded, these performing rights societies would not see any more revenue generated by a download of a television program for the music it contains. I think that was the main reason for it.

JAGOW:OK, Susan Butler from Billboard Magazine. Thank you.


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