Federal - Intellectual Property Advisory: Court Holds that Performance Licenses Are Not Required for Ringtones

How many different copyright rights does a ringtone implicate? On October 14, 2009, the Southern District of New York, sitting as a rate court under an antitrust consent decree, held that public performance licenses for musical compositions are not required for ringtones. In re Application of Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless, 09-7074 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 14, 2009). This summary judgment ruling is a favorable decision for copyright users, including those such as the applicant in this case, Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless (Verizon), who already pay a mechanical license fee for the ringtones they provide to their customers. The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) made two principal arguments in support of its position that Verizon must pay public performance licensing fees for ringtones...

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