Judge: ringtones aren’t performances, so no royalties

15 10 2009

If you have been blessing everyone around you with cell phone “performances” of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” rest assured that your cell phone provider won’t have to pay royalties on it. A federal court has ruled that ringtones played aloud in public are not infringing on the content owners’ copyrights because they don’t constitute a true performance. (In other news, children are still allowed to sing songs without paying royalties.)

Joking aside (actually, that’s less of a joke than you might think), the ringtone argument was made by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) earlier this year when it sued certain mobile carriers in the US in an attempt to force them to fork over royalties every time a customer’s ringtone is played.

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