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October 5, 2011

Music downloads are not public performance: US Supreme Court

ASCAP had asked for compensation for legal online downloads of music

By CBR Staff Writer

The US Supreme Court has ruled that Internet download of sound recording does not constitute a public performance of the recorded musical work under federal copyright law.

Earlier, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) had argued that downloading music is equivalent to a public performance, thereby allowing it to collect royalties. The US Supreme Court turned down the argument saying that ASCAP’s interpretation of a section of the Copyright Act was incorrect, according to Reuters.

In the filing, ASCAP had said that over 390,000 composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers in the US exclusively license their music through the the not-for-profit organisation.

ASCAP said that Internet downloads were also public performances and that the copyright owners must be compensated for such downloading. But a federal judge and the appeals court rejected that argument.

The court said, "Music is neither recited, rendered, nor played when a recording (electronic or otherwise) is simply delivered to a potential listener."


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