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Music Games

ASCAP Seeks Licensing Fees For Guitar Hero Arcade 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the understanding-is-too-much-effort dept.
Self Bias Resistor writes "According to a post on the Arcade-Museum forums, ASCAP is demanding an annual $800 licensing fee from at least one operator of a Guitar Hero Arcade machine, citing ASCAP licensing regulations regarding jukeboxes. An ASCAP representative allegedly told the operator that she viewed the Guitar Hero machine as a jukebox of sorts. The operator told ASCAP to contact Raw Thrills, the company that sells the arcade units. The case is ongoing and GamePolitics is currently seeking clarification of the story from ASCAP."
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ASCAP Seeks Licensing Fees For Guitar Hero Arcade

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  • by dikdik (1696426) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:06AM (#30456070)
    The music "industry" is not music. It's just middle men. They create drag, friction, between the musicians and the fans. They are an unneeded artifice, a relic of an earlier age, in my mind. For instance:

    "Despite the fact that these games are very successful and are drawing a great deal of attention to the music represented in the games, the industry is not pleased with the licensing arrangements that allow the games to use their songs."

    Does anyone here think "their songs" refers means "the artist's songs" or does it rather mean "Corp X's songs". Their original argument in the opening salvo of their war against the internet was "think of the artists!" Well, apparently they don't abide by their own logic (nor have they ever). From the very same article:

    "Music games are proven earners--Aerosmith has reportedly earned more from Guitar Hero : Aerosmith than from any single album in the band's history." Fuck the music industry. Please, just die already.

  • A jukebox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TimeElf1 (781120) <kennettb@NospAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:23AM (#30456174) Homepage Journal
    I would think a GH video game stand would be more akin to a DDR arcade game than a jukebox.
  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:40AM (#30456302)

    "... [T]he industry is not pleased with the licensing arrangements that allow the games to use their songs."

    So, they're licensed, and allowed to use the songs?

    Glad that's all cleared up, then. Move along, nothing to see here.

  • by Mononoke (88668) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:44AM (#30456328) Homepage Journal
    ASCAP is not the "music industry." ASCAP (and BMI, et al) are directly connected to the content creators themselves. You know, the people who actually deserve to be paid for their creativity.
  • by FinchWorld (845331) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:48AM (#30456352) Homepage
    Google ASCAP, its just another organisation that operates like the RIAA. So yes, they do apply. I mean, they wanted people to pay for public performances of there work if your ringtone was a song that went off in public.
  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:51AM (#30456362)

    The companies represent the artists because the artists sign a contract affording the company the right to distribute (and the responsibility/incentive to police unauthorized distribution). Aerosmith can manage their online distribution themselves ("Hey, Tyler... it's Wednesday: Your day to modify the XML!") or they can strike a deal with a company to handle that kind of stuff for them.

    -Aerosmith has reportedly earned more from Guitar Hero : Aerosmith than from any single album in the band's history

    That's great. Do you think they could have gotten that deal if they weren't represented by their company? Do you think Tyler could even make it downstairs before lunchtime if a third party did not have a vested interest in their success and distribution?

    Don't get me wrong: I'm all for artists -- musicians, writers, composers, comedians -- managing as much of their own distribution as they can. The smaller, less established you are, the more it matters; the bigger, better established you are, the more difficult it becomes. But it is the choice of the artist. I buy produce directly from the growers at Farmers' Markets whenever I can, but I do not begrudge the grocery stores their role in the supply chain.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:57AM (#30456402)

    I believe it was Mafia and gangster money that financed the first record companies when the artists moved out of the clubs and into larger venues and they wanted to take advantage of the new playback technologies like the humble gramophone. Dirty money started it and dirty money still runs it. Glad to see nothing has changed in the last 90 years!

    Dump that mass-produced U2, X-Factor cack and start checking out your local club scenes, get into niche music of your choice, where the artists benefit directly from your investment.

  • by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:02AM (#30456432)
    They aren't the RIAA, but ASCAP plays by more or less the same rulebook as the RIAA and is every bit as odious. It just so happens that they have less reason to go after individuals and chase after businesses instead.
  • by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:09AM (#30456470)
    ASCAP is too the "music industry". They just happen to be the gatekeepers of performance rights, rather than the copyrights. Do a little bit of research into ASCAP and you will find that they are every bit as anti-artist and anti-consumer as the RIAA. They have been caught withholding funds from artists while tossing around the idea of charging royalties on cell phone ringtones. They are in the same exact position as the RIAA -- worthless leeches on our society that stand between artists and fans. I would even say that ASCAP is worse, their obscenely high licensing fees simply ensure that most places simply won't play popular music. A sane person would consider their song being played at the mall to be free advertising, but ASCAP would beg to differ. ASCAP? They more like ASSHAT.
  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:43AM (#30456790) Homepage Journal

    This is ASCAP. That's what they do. They mostly hassle tavern owners. They collect for jukeboxes, radios, live music, even when the band only plays their own compositions and according to bar owners I know, they're almost as pushy as the Mafia, usint threats, coercion, every trick in the book. I was talking to one bar owner one day when a lady from ASCAP showed up to put the squeeze on him. She was HOT and she used it; you would have thought she was a hooker the way she played him.

    There was one bar here that actually went out of business because of ASCAP. He had no jukebox and hired folk bands; these bands played old folk music that was in the public domain, and ASCAP sued anyway. He wouldn't cave on principle and the legal costs bankrupted him and he lost his business.

    ASCAP is as evil as the RIAA.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:48AM (#30456844)

    Could be dangerous. Usually the foot is in their mouth.

  • by CowboyBob500 (580695) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:06AM (#30457718) Homepage
    He wouldn't cave on principle and the legal costs bankrupted him and he lost his business.

    That's a failure of the the way the US legal system works as well as the behaviour of ASCAP. In fact, if the US legal system had a loser pays system like most of the free world, it is unlikely that ASCAP would sue in the first place.
  • by Kalvos (137750) <bathory@maltedmedia.com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:11AM (#30457818) Homepage

    Artists are 'worth the effort' if their art is worthwhile. This is always a conundrum, as 'popular' and 'worthwhile' aren't the same thing, and certain don't always match the traditional economic model. ASCAP recognizes this disparity of value with special award funds provided annually to low-royalty, highly skilled artists (as record labels used to support their classical divisions). If art isn't your social priority, it isn't worth it to you, and you won't get this significance.

    But that's not the point I was making at all -- rather, that as artists grow in interest and gain performances, that investment is beneficial both economically and to society, and licensing agencies handle that paperwork and lower the stress level for both artists and venues (who would be negotiating song-by-song for live gigs rather than paying a blanket licenses).

    The NEA also tries to recognize this disparity between 'popular' and 'worthwhile' with their motto, "A great nation deserves great art." Unfortunately, they didn't quite get it right. A great nation MAKES great art. That's what we do as artists, and our agents help us live by our work.

    Dennis

  • by AusIV (950840) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @12:45PM (#30459336)

    I'm not sure I agree that what you suggest is the best approach (because it allows a corporation at least one frivolous suit before they have to start paying the other side's legal fees), but I definitely agree with the sentiment. Corporations with deep pockets shouldn't be able to force innocent people into settlements simply because it's too expensive to defend yourself - that's extortion.

    I think a better option than what you suggest would be if the defendant could file a motion for coverage of legal fees. The defendant would have to convince the judge that the plaintiff's deep pockets make prohibitively expensive to defend the case, and that without the other side footing the legal fees the fiscally responsible action of an innocent party would be to settle. If the judge rules in favor of the plaintiff, he may decide to award the defendant's legal fees back to the plaintiff. If you know you're liable, you'd still be inclined to settle rather than rack up legal fees you know you'll have to pay off, but if you're innocent you'd have a viable means to defend yourself.

  • by AusIV (950840) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @12:57PM (#30459504)

    I'm not sure I completely agree with your proposal, but I definitely agree with the sentiment. A party with deep pockets shouldn't be able to force an innocent party into a settlement by making it cost prohibitive to defend yourself - that's extortion by my book.

    I think a better alternative would be some kind of motion where a defendant can request that the judge order the plaintiff to pay legal fees. The defendant would need to be able to convince the judge that defending the suit is cost prohibitive and that an innocent but fiscally responsible party would be inclined to settle rather than defend against the suit. The judge could require the plaintiff to pay the defendant's legal fees, and if the judge finds in favor of the plaintiff the legal fees may be awarded back as well. Someone who knows they're at fault would still be inclined to settle out of court, but someone who believes he is innocent would have a viable means of defending himself.

"The greatest warriors are the ones who fight for peace." -- Holly Near

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