I mentioned a while ago that ASCAP was suing AT&T over ringtones, saying that royalties were owed every time someone’s phone rang. Public performance and all that. Well, in addition to suing AT&T, ASCAP sued Verizon for the same thing, and PC World (via Yahoo!) is reporting that District Judge Denise Cote of the Southern District of New York has tossed the suit against Verizon.
Judge Cote’s reasoning is refreshing:
“Despite the accusation that Verizon enjoys revenue from publicly played ringtones, Verizon makes no revenue from the playing of ringtones, in public or elsewhere,” Cote wrote. “It makes revenue from selling ringtones, and it already pays a mechanical licensing fee in connection with those sales.”
The Center for Democracy and Technology, which is hosting a copy of the Order, also notes that the Court relied partly on common sense in making its ruling. It always seemed somewhat strained to argue that Verizon should be liable for a public performance (even to the extent that a ringtone could constitute a public performance) when it had no control over when or how that public performance would occur.