I have just read an interesting article (link below) about mobile ringtones and performance royalties. The subject matter is something I have pondered before, but always disregarded as ridiculous.
For example, I have often heard in the street and on public transport, kids with their crazy mobile ringtones or playing music mp3’s on speaker (guess I am sounding old here) and have often thought, I wonder what copyright law would say about this? Is that not defined as a performance? Is a royalty due? Will PRO’s start happy slapping teenagers with annual PRO licenses? Surely not. That would be madness! Or would it?
It seems that ASCAP want to start charging mobile phone service providers for this usage. Of course, charging mobile phone users would be unacceptable, so they will charge them indirectly through the providers. Hmm… Do you get a discount if you use the silent mode? Also, what about the people that just want their phones to ring and not play mp3’s? Can they buy a cheaper alternative version?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for composers being paid fairly for their music usage, but even if ASCAP did charge the mobile phone service providers, how many independent composers would benefit? Call me cynical, but I suspect that the mainstream artists and industry would be the benefactors.
I mean, when is copyright law going to be re-worked with some common sense? Is this a music tax aimed at supplementing the mainstream industries income at a time when music sales are falling or is it a genuine attempt at collecting income for composers?
It is interesting that we have all become conditioned to expect confusing rules around music use and have come to expect it, but the fact is music use in physical and digital media application is about to explode in the next 10 years. Can we seriously keep implementing performance royalties on everything?
To me, some of these ideas are as crazy as if somebody introduced a compulsory royalty payment for looking at images or art in public… imagine the complications and frustrations… I think it is already happening with music.
What next? Royalties for whistling in the street? Oh, and if playing a CD in your car, please keep your windows closed to avoid copyright infringement. 🙂
Read the article that set me off
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