ASCAP the new aggressive face on copyright SN issues

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ASCAP the new aggressive face on copyright SN issues

Postby yorktown » Fri Jul 10, 2009 7:06 am

Social Networking will bring out the good and bad in all of us.

It looks like there is an aggressive new face to the issue of copyright in social networking. Its called ASCAP.

No, it\'s not the ASPCA (Association for the Protection of Animals, a super cool organization).

ASCAP is different. (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) is actually an organization that has been around for 90 years. Today, it is actually trying to do something that we all heard was a rumor 10 years ago, to get websites, bars, any organized public arena / gathering area, *anything* that plays music to actually PAY for the right to play music.

In principle, the idea of copyright and royalty laws are to protect composers, authors, publishers from having their material being copied or distributed without compensation. All of us grew up knowing that meant that you don\'t mass copy an album, movie, etc and resell it or distribute without a license from the author.

Most of us have at some stage copied a CD of some music, or made a tape from an album. But, you didn\'t make 5000 tapes of a single album and sell them or give them away. Those people were prosecuted.

ASCAP\'s legal arguments are a bit more draconian. They go back to the early 1900s, as can be read in the excellent article in Time Magazine on the United States Government vs. ASCAP court case. According to ASCAP, ANY use of music needs to be paid for. Ring Tones included.

YouTube was an obvious social networking target, We\'ve all seen 10 minute home-made videos with our favorite music. Youtube has algorithms that watch for protected music copyright for over a year now. Any video with identifyable copyrighted music is pulled or the audio is muted. I believe the amount is 30 seconds. Anything longer and the audio is shut.

One of my favorites was a bunch of Navy kids on a USS Carrier in the Persian Gulf having fun. Youtube disabled this one. Click on both. You\'ll see my point. Its Navy kids. They have no money. They are protecting us. Give me a break. (Still the US Dept of Defense banned SN sites later on. I couldn\'t blame that decision. It was cool to watch the kids having fun, but I was able to ID military personnel and see equipment. Oops).

In the end, banning the music will only strengthen YouTube competitors. Most youtube users utilize music they have downloaded or is common and popular. Those people will simply use another service and make it popular virally.

But it appears ASCAP\'s aspirations have grown. They are now mass targeting websites, bars, cafes. They even targeted the Girl Scouts! According to a Phoenix New Times even royalty free music places are targeted.

ASCAP\'s apparent method of operation is to send an unwitting firm a letter. In the letter, it says they represent the rights of the composers, authors and publishers and ask that you sign some 12-15 page agreement and pay the firm (see here). They even include an invoice for you as well [with a blank amount for you to fill in - (see Page 8)]. They follow up with several calls. The strategy is the mere threat will get the firm to cave in and pay only a few hundred dollars a year. Multiply that by thousands of companies...and you get the picture.

Their top-gun attorney is Richard H. Reimer, who\'s been with ASCAP since 1971. Its a firm with teeth. They are backed by BMI as well as other firms.

If you have a social networking site out there, you need to send this link to your legal department and consider how best to handle it. Clearly you should have an existing policy on copyrighted material. This thread places the onus on the operator.

Comments? Would love to hear.

Marc Lesnick
Conference Organizer
Social Networking Conference
Posts: 128
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 4:32 am

Postby qMbLOixIfQeFjqy » Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:53 pm


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