A ringtone is
|“||a digital file of a portion of a musical composition or other sound that is designed to be played by a customer's telephone in order to signal an incoming call in the same manner as would a telephone ring.||”|
|“||a phonorecord of a partial musical work distributed as a digital phonorecord delivery in a format to be made resident on a telecommunications device for use to announce the reception of an incoming telephone call or other communications or message or to alert the receiver to the fact that there is a communication or message.||”|
Downloading a typical thirty-second ringtone takes a matter of seconds. A ringtone cannot be played while it is being downloaded. After a ringtone has been downloaded, a digital file appears on the customer’s telephone. The customer can listen to the downloaded ringtone by clicking on the digital file, but only after it has been fully downloaded. A customer can then set her telephone to play the ringtone when her telephone receives an incoming call.
The customer determines whether and where a ringtone will play when she receives a call by controlling whether her telephone is on or off, whether the telephone is set to indicate an incoming call by playing a ringtone or by some other method (e.g., normal ringing, vibrating), and where the telephone is at any given point. When a ringtone rings, the music or sound clip plays from the digital file stored on the telephone.
Today, a ringtone is often an excerpt of a musical composition embodied in a digital file and rendered into audio. Ringtones, generally no more that 30 seconds in length, are stored in an end user's mobile telephone, pager or other portable communications device and played whenever the device activates its ring or alert function (upon the arrival of a call, message or other notification).
There are two basic types of ringtones: phonic ringtones and mastertones. The most rudimentary ringtone, in musical terms, is the monophonic ringtone that only contains a musical work’s melody (or a portion of the melody). One level up the musical hierarchy is the polyphonic ringtone that contains a work’s melody and harmony (or a portion thereof). The most musically complex ringtones are mastertones.
There are also non-musical ringtones that are becoming increasingly popular with consumers. These include such things as: audio clips from films and television programs; comic routines from Comedy Central; pithy observations by Donald Trump; and announcement of baseball plays.
- ↑ In re Application of Cellco Partnership d/b/a/ Verizon Wireless, 09 Civ. 70(DLC)(MHD) (Opinion and Order, dated Oct. 14, 2009).
- ↑ 37 C.F.R. 210.12(d).
- ↑ Beyond Voice: Mapping the Mobile Marketplace, at 5.
- ↑ Cellular phones typically have the ability to accept downloads of ringtones, usually directly over the cellphone network. Over the last decade, a new consumer market has developed for musical ringtones.