From the Ridiculous Intellectual Property Enforcements Catalog we bring you "Roll Up Your Windows."
The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) filed a suit against AT&T asseting that RINGTONES QUALIFY AS A PUBLIC PERFORMANCE under the Copyright Act. What is ridiculous about this is that the mobile operators have already agreed to and are paying royalties on the ringtones that they sell to subscribers. Now they want the mobile operators to pay when the phone rings in pubic.
According to a press release from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org), ASCAP argues that phone carriers must pay additional royalties of face legal liability for contributing to what they claim is cell phone user's copyright infringement. Fred von Lohmann, an EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney added, "Are the millions of people who have bought ringtones breaking the law if they forget to silence their phones in a restaurant? Under the reasoning from ASCAP, it would be a copy right violation for you to play your car radio with the window down."
It would be a nice thing to silence the cell phones in restaurants (and elevators, and Starbucks, and at the hair place) but it's hardly the ringtones that are annoying. But for now we may need to roll up those windows while this ridiculous claim proceeds or risk delivering a public performance with our cell phone ring tones.