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Music groups want royalties from iTunes samples, more

updated 08:35 am EDT, Thu September 17, 2009

ASCAP, others want online performance fees

Music royalty groups ASCAP and BMI are pressing online music stores like Apple's iTunes to pay performance fees not only for actual song downloads but also videos and even the 30-second samples used to preview the music in advance. While these stores already pay the distribution fees for the songs themselves, ASCAP, BMI and labels claim that just downloading and playing the content also counts as a live performance and should bring an extra fee.

The reasons vary depending on the format. For music, it's claimed that downloads or streams, including samples, count as a public performances as with the radio or in a venue, where performance royalties are already paid. Movie and TV royalties would be different as soundtrack artist are normally paid for when the videos are aired, which is commonplace for theaters and TV networks but doesn't occur for online formats.

However, critics such as the Digital Music Association, an online media industry defender that counts Apple, RealNetworks and others as members, counter that a legal precedent has already been set that considers downloads private and thus exempt from performance fees. They also accuse ASCAP and related firms of trying to collect double royalties, of violating copyright law in trying to collect from samples, and simply of trying to exploit successful online stores like iTunes.

"These guys are afraid that the business model is shifting away from public performances to a model of private performances," DiMA executive director Jonathan Potter told CNET. "They aren't getting paid for the public performance in a download because there is no public performance in a download."

Internet radio stations, including both generic streams and recommendation-based systems like and Pandora, already pay royalties for each song streamed online. Those with the jukebox software playing the content are at least theoretically exempt as they only make the stations accessible.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jmelrose

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I think Apple should turn off the royalties, and then let these companies watch profits drop even further as people don't buy stuff from the story due to not knowing if it is the track they want, or getting an idea of an artist before purchasing.

    Ridiculous and short-sighted... which explains so much about why the recording industry is in the situation it is in recently.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    what's next

    you know when you get that song bug in your head? Yeah they will want a royalty for that.

  1. RKDinOKC

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Mo money

    They need to start a music stimulus plan where they pay you to listen to the samples.

  1. chas_m




    HAHAHAHAHA good luck with that!

    You know, as a person with copyrighted works of art out there, I'm NOT a "f*** the RIAA" type person. At all.

    But whoever's advising the publishing/record companies these days is apparently determined to completely redefine the meanings of both "money-grubbing" and "public backlash."

    The "f*** the RIAA" fools will never bring down the record-company model, in part because they are doing such a fine job of destroying themselves, quite frankly.

  1. jmonty12

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Completely Reasonable

    There's absolutely nothing stupid nor greedy about this. Nothing!

  1. b9robot

    Joined: Dec 1969


    More greed from the music labels!

    This is just as stupid as there request for royalties for every time your phone plays a ringtone, they want money for that too!!!!

    This tidal wave of greed started when Bush let these fools go suing everyone including dead people for what they claimed was stolen music. Now they seem to think they are owed the world for every note to ever peep out of a speaker!

  1. elroth

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Obviously, paying royalties for the song samples people listen to is ridiculous.

    I don't understand what the issue is with videos. Don't the songwriters and publishers get royalties when a video is sold, whether by download or on a DVD? So are they asking for an additional royalty on top of that for a download, because it's a "performance"? That's bizarre.

    The next step is mandatory software that monitors your computer, stereo and iPod to keep track of what you play so the publishers can charge you for the performance.

  1. cueball73

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I have to set the record straight. BMI and ASCAP have to do with paying the artists for their work, not the labels.

    with that said, this is completely retarded of them. i will go into BMI and ASCAP here in Nashville this week and 'suggest' to the presidents of each that they drop it.

  1. LEStudios

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yeah I signed with BMI but...

    that have no weight even if take to court it wouldn't make a case. I listen to 30 seconds if I buy I buy if I don't I won't. Royalties in this manner is NOT going to work and I'm not looking forward to this.

  1. jdonahoe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Drop previews completely

    Apple should drop previews completely for songs covered by ASCAP and BMI. What will happen is the companies not charging royalty fees for previews will get the business. There could be 10 or more different artists singing a particular song, but a potential buyer will purchase the one that "sounds" closest to what they remember, which in this case won't be ASCAP or BMI. Then we'll see their mindset.

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