Bloomberg News

Songwriters Rejected by U.S. High Court in Yahoo Royalty Fight

October 03, 2011

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling that limits the royalties Internet companies including Yahoo! Inc. and RealNetworks Inc. must pay to songwriters on downloaded music.

The justices today turned away an appeal by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP, which licenses about 45 percent of the musical works played online.

ASCAP sought to overturn a ruling that the group said in court papers would cost its 295,000 members tens of millions of dollars a year.

A federal appeals court in New York ruled that the downloading of a musical work isn’t a “public performance” covered under the U.S. copyright laws. That reasoning meant ASCAP couldn’t seek compensation on behalf of its members for the act of downloading, though copyright owners can still demand royalties for the new copies of a song that are created.

The dispute landed in court after ASCAP couldn’t reach licensing agreements with Yahoo and RealNetworks. ASCAP then invoked a procedure set up decades ago under a settlement with the Justice Department, asking a federal judge in Manhattan to determine what licensing fees would be reasonable.

The case is American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers v. United States, 10-1337.

--Editors: Justin Blum, Laurie Asseo.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.


We Almost Lost the Nasdaq
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW

(enter your email)
(enter up to 5 email addresses, separated by commas)

Max 250 characters

 
blog comments powered by Disqus