AOL, RealNetworks and Yahoo Get $100 Million Bill

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ascap.jpgA Federal Court found today that AOL, Real Networks and Yahoo owe $100million to songwriters and composers as back payment for streaming music online.

The court ruled on a request from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers to establish reasonable compensation for the playing of their works. Notably ASCAP represents writers and composers and not the record industry, so the request for money is on top of any existing licensing agreements with the RIAA and its constituent members.

The court found that “reasonable license fees” are owing from AOL, RealNetworks, and Yahoo for the music streamed and distributed from their sites, retrospective to 2002, at a cost ASCAP counts at $100 million.

Unsurprisingly, ASCAP was happy with the decision:

“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.”

The Digital Media Association, a trade organization representing online streaming and music providers, said that the are not opposed to compensating composers and writers, but object to the model imposed by the court, with demands companies hand over 2.5% in part of all revenue as compensation, not just revenue from the music services themselves.

(in part via CNet)

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