New York, NY, April 30, 2008:
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York today made public a decision in the proceeding to determine reasonable license fees to be paid to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) by AOL (Time Warner Inc., NYSE: TWX), RealNetworks Inc. (Nasdaq: RNWK) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) for their online performance of musical works.
The decision covers license fees for periods starting as far back as July 1, 2002, and continuing through December 31, 2009, for the performance of musical works in the ASCAP repertory by AOL, RealNetworks and Yahoo! Based on the formula established by the Court, the total payments to be made to ASCAP and its membership by these three services for that full period could reach $100 million. The Court's comprehensive 153 page decision was based on extensive evidence presented by both sides in the case regarding the online performance of musical works by AOL, RealNetworks and Yahoo!
ASCAP represents more than 320,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members. It does not represent, and this decision has no relation to, the rights owned by record companies.
"The Court's finding represents a major step toward proper valuation of the music contributions of songwriters, composers and publishers to these types of online businesses - many of which have built much of their success on the foundation of the creative works of others," said ASCAP President and Chairman and Academy Award-winning lyricist, Marilyn Bergman. "It is critical that these organizations share a reasonable portion of their sizable revenues with those of us whose content attracts audiences and, ultimately, helps to make their businesses viable. This decision will go a long way toward protecting the ability of songwriters and composers to be compensated fairly as the use of musical works online continues to grow."
"Musical works both support and enhance the business models of many major technology- and Internet-driven organizations - especially those that derive advertising revenue from consumer traffic and engagement," said ASCAP CEO John A. LoFrumento. "This historic decision, for the first time, provides a clear framework for how the online use of musical works should be appropriately valued. This decision also provides clear validation of the flexibility and applicability of the ASCAP blanket license model relative to the use of musical works on the Internet - something the Court itself specifically noted in its written decision."
LoFrumento added that the Court's decision confirms the unique value ASCAP provides as the only performing rights organization owned by its own members. "Given our member ownership, ASCAP faces no conflicts in representing the rights and interests of songwriters, composers and music publishers. This allows us to effectively lead the fight for the royalties they deserve across all channels and media," he said.
Download the Full Court Decision as a PDF here.
Established in 1914, ASCAP is the first and leading U.S. Performing Rights Organization (PRO) representing the world's largest repertory totaling over 8.5 million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from more than 320,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members. ASCAP has representation arrangements with over 90 similar foreign organizations such that the ASCAP repertory is represented in nearly every country around the world. ASCAP protects the rights of its members and foreign affiliates by licensing the public performances of their copyrighted works and distributing royalties based upon surveyed performances. ASCAP is the only American PRO owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. www.ascap.com
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