A district judge has ruled that Verizon Wireless doesn't have to pay separate performance rights fees for ringtones, reports The Wall Street Journal. The decision is a setback for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, who say Verizon should have to pay a separate public performance fee when a customer downloads a ringtone.
However, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said:
Based on undisputed facts, however, Verizon has shown that its transmission of a ringtone to a cellular telephone customer does not constitute a performance of a musical work "publicly."
The judge said her decision also applies to a related case filed by AT&T Mobility, a unit of AT&T Inc., notes Bloomberg. She encouraged the involved parties to enter into settlement discussions.