Friday, July 3, 2009

First Things We Do...Is Shoot All the Lawyers

Jim is on vacation in the Florida Panhandle, unfortunately even the isolation of Florida's pre-Cambrian swamps is not enough to insulate him from the stupidity of frivolous lawsuits...

Despite having several close friends who are lawyers, there are days where I would cheerfully banish the entire breed to some remote island in the Aleutians.

The American Society of Composer, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) filed a lawsuit against telecoms giant AT&T, in which it told a federal court that ringtones fell under the public perfomance Copyright Act.
Yes, that is correct, the lawyers of the ASCAP have filed suit for copyright violation and compensation, because - and yes they managed to say this with a straight face - they apparently consider ringtones a public performance.

We're not using Shemya anymore, it's small but with proper compression I'm sure we could get all the lawyers on it.


  1. If ATT is selling the ring tones, and I assume they are, then yes they should be paying royalties.

    And if they are giving copyrighted work away as ringtones, they should be paying royalties.

  2. proper compression, as in hydrolic trash compactors?

  3. ntsc, a license fee is paid by AT&T and other sellers of ringtones on the sale of the ringtone. What ASCAP is claiming is that every time the ringtone actually plays due to an incoming call, that's a public performance of the song, and therefore ASCAP is due royalties for every time a phone rings playing the ringtone.

    It's a ludicrous assertion and totally unsupported by copyright law. Besides, trust me, if this were upheld in court, ringtones based on any copyrighted material would quickly disappear.

  4. Don't hold it against the lawyers, Jim--sometimes, our job is to represent asstards because even asstards are entitled to their day in court.

    I feel confident that this wasn't ASCAP's lawyers' idea in any meaningful sense: ASCAP went to their attorneys and asked if there was a way to make more money off of ringtones. And it's quite possible somebody at ASCAP wrote a legal memo that basically said, "Well, I guess you could argue that they're public performances, but here's why that's kind of retarded." (The problem with the Bush Admin's lawyers is that nobody came up with the obvious other side, btw--had any of them said, "Well, you could argue it's legal, blah blah blah, but here's why it's a bad idea," they would have been doing their jobs.) If ASCAP came back and said, "Okay, file a suit under that theory," ASCAP's attorneys would generally be kind of obligated to file, even if they were rolling their eyes behind closed doors. (I'm keeping it simple: an attorney isn't always obligated, but my wrist is getting too achy to get into a whole thing on legal ethics.)

    * * *

    Completely off topic, how's it feel to be out a Governor, Jim?

  5. You know that damned bitch pulled this resignation act on purpose, just because I am on vacation and do not have regular access to news feeds, Alaska, or the Internet. Damn her.

  6. Yeah, that will teach you to take vacation! You leave Alaska and the nutzjob running the state successfully plots her escape.

    Wonder how long it will take the silly ditz to figure out the rest of the country DOESN'T want her. Or worse...what has she done that would force her to resign sometime later down the line that she's hoping to avoid by this dog and pony show???

    Enquiring minds want to know!!


  7. Could you spare Eric, please, while you're rounding up, interning and drowning all the lawyers? We kinda like him.

  8. @ vince

    If ATT is paying a fee I don't see a case against them, perhaps ASCAP has a case against the person using the ringtone. For a number of years I was the engineer on a major movie companies Intellectual Property Police squad. My co-member was a very cute lawyer.

    As the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson remarked, straining at gnats is part of a lawyer's training.

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