RIAA Claims Ringtone Copyright Confusion Causes Unfair Late Fees

This Boombox plays music

The never ending legal battles of the Recording Industry Association of American landed at the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. today as attorneys, including Jenner & Block partner Paul Smith, argued over ringtone rates.

Legal Times: Here’s how [Smith] put it in a D.C. Circuit brief last month: “Record companies use their best efforts to pay royalties to music publishers and other copyright owners in a timely manner. However, the unique character of the mechanical licensing market makes that challenging. The most important factor causing late payment of mechanical royalties is the failure of publishers and songwriters to advise record companies promptly of the split ownership of songs.”

Often, there are several parties who should receive royalties from a single song as songwriters, composers, performers and other parties may have a cut of the ownership.

The Copyright Royalty Board has a 1.5% late fee every month for licenses to use pieces of music that have already been publicly released.

Kelsi Brown, the attorney for the Justice Department’s Civil Division called Smith’s arguments “complete fiction.”

And the battle rages on.

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