The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) is an unincorporated membership association that aggregates the licensing authority of thousands of composers, authors, lyricists and music publishers, and issues licenses affording users access to its collection of musical works. ASCAP represents approximately 200,000 songwriter and publisher members licensing a repertoire of over 4,000,000 copyrighted works. Each member has granted ASCAP a non-exclusive right under 17 U.S.C. §106(4) to license the nondramatic public performance rights to his or her compositions. ASCAP collects and redistributes royalties to its members.
ASCAP issues a general license to radio stations for its entire catalog, with the fee generally based on a percentage of the station’s annual revenues (known as a blanket license). As with the other performing rights organizations, ASCAP has taken the position that its radio license agreement with traditional radio broadcasters does not cover performances on the Internet. A separate license agreement must be executed specifically authorizing performance of its catalog musical works over the Internet. ASCAP charges a license fee that differs depending on the use of its musical works on a website.
Antitrust restraints Edit
Pursuant to a consent decree stemming from antitrust litigation filed by the United States Department of Justice against ASCAP in 1941, the federal district court for the Southern District of New York sits as a rate court to resolve disputes over ASCAP’s licensing fees for the public performance of its members’ musical works.
|“||The Second Amended Final Judgment entered in the United States' civil antitrust action against ASCAP (“AFJ2”) provides in Section IX that anyone desiring a license for the public performance of any ASCAP musical composition may apply to ASCAP therefor and, upon such application, may perform the music for fees to be determined later. Section IX further provides that if the parties cannot agree on the fee for such license, either party may apply to this Court to set reasonable interim and final fees.||”|