U.S. Court Rules That Ringtones Played in Public Don't Constitute Royalty Payments

U.S. Court Rules That Ringtones Played in Public Don't Constitute Royalty Payments
Fear no more, New Yorkers. If your Jay-Z ringtone chimes on the subway, you'll no longer have to dodge men in suits looking for their music copyright payola. A New York federal judge ruled on Wednesday (October 14) that ringtones played in public do not count for any royalty payments, reports Electronista.

The decision by Judge Denise Cote launches a juicy raspberry into the face of royalty group ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), who had argued that any public ringtone constituted royalty payments to the original artist. Seems kind of redonkulous when you really think about it.

The complainant in the case, cellphone provider Verizon, received a summary judgment that the only valid royalty paid out to ringtone artists is the cost of the original ringtone file when purchased by the consumer. Makes sense, right?

The decision should get the ball rolling for Verizon to reverse $5 million in payments made to ASCAP to temporarily resolve the dispute over ringtones. Some industry pundits also believe this judgment could set a precedent in ASCAP's ongoing attempts to collect royalties on song samples.

Somewhere in here is a "bust a cap in your ASCAP" joke. And, for nerdy music copyright completists, here's a pdf of the actual court ruling for legal perusing and/or light evening reading.