EFF Rebuts Drive To Get Royalties From Mobile Phone Carriers
July 7, 2009 at 10:40 AM (PT)
The ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION (EFF) urged a federal court to reject copyright claims in a ringtone royalty battle because it could raise costs for consumers, jeopardize consumer rights, and curtail new technological innovation, reports Mi2N.COM.
The AMERICAN SOCIETY OF COMPOSERS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHERS (ASCAP) argued before a federal court that each time a phone rings in a public place, the phone user has violated copyright law. Therefore, phone carriers must pay additional royalties or face legal liability for contributing to what they claim is cell phone users' copyright infringement.
In an amicus brief filed WEDNESDAY, EFF pointed out that copyright law does not reach public performances "without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage" -- clearly the case with cell phone ringtones. If phone users are not infringing copyright law, then mobile phone service providers are not contributing to any infringement.
ASCAP responded by saying that it does not plan to charge mobile phone users, just mobile phone service providers.
"Because it is legal for consumers to play music in public, it's also legal for my mobile phone carrier to sell me a ringtone and a phone to do it," EFF Sr. Intellectual Property Attorney FRED VON LOHMANN said. "Otherwise it would be illegal to sell all kinds of technologies that help us enjoy our fair use, first sale, and other copyright privileges."