ASCAP, SOCAN, Public Performances and Telecommunications


The US Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decision in US v ASCAP (sometimes referred to as ASCAP v RealNetworks) (text of decision is available here) has generated a surprising amount of commentary - particularly from practitioners and academics outside of the United States. The two cruxes (cruxii?) of the decision are that the downloading of a digital song file does not constitute a "public performance" for purposes of US copyright law - and so entities (such as RealNetworks and Yahoo!, who were applicants and appellees in the case) who offer music downloading services to end-users are not liable to make payment to performing rights organizations such as ASCAP - and that the district court charged with setting the royalty which ASCAP could charge to online service providers made some analytical errors in deciding on a rate. For purposes of this post, only the first issue, that relating to public performances, will be discussed.

As Barry Sookman has noted (in a comprehensive post on the matter), the decision highlights differences between Canadian and US copyright law. Ben Chaliss, writing at the 1709 Copyright Blog (and from a UK perspective), also provides a useful review of the decision in "Internet rates, rights (and wrongs)". As Barry notes,

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Published In: Art, Entertainment & Sports Updates, Communications & Media Updates, Intellectual Property Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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