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ASCAP Seeks Licensing Fees For Guitar Hero Arcade 146

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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  • I'd go further... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blcamp ( 211756 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:40AM (#30456296) Homepage

    IANAL but I'd tell the ASCAP flunky that the music's ALREADY LICENSED to start with. Otherwise it wouldn't even make it to the GH machine in the first place, right?

    Sounds like an attempted shakedown of a small business that's not legally bound to pay anything in this instance.

    Perhaps ASCAP need to be introduced to a different acronym: RICO.

  • by wantedman ( 577548 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:56AM (#30456398) Homepage Journal
    DDR is currently in a gray area, since it crosses the line between video game and jukebox. Especially if it's positioned in an area so everyone can watch it. There hasn't been a "ruling" one way or the other from ASCAP on it. There are complications, because a lot of DDR songs are unlicensed in the US or are original performances by Konami. GH is a better test case, which is probably why they're using it.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:06AM (#30456448)

    We could get rid of them. If they didn't have the monetary muscle and clout to twist laws around and bunker behind a wall of lawyers (albeit the mental picture of RIAA lawyers being layered on top of each other like sandbags is appealing...), they would have lost most of the influence they have.

    The point is that they have become obsolete. What's their trade? Basically it's being the middle man between producer of art and consumer, as you pointed out. Their job was to bring the music the artists make to the people who want to enjoy it.

    And that's not needed anymore. I can see their fear of the internet. It is the perfect medium to distribute information. And that's basically the business they're in. If there is a free middle man, like the internet, who would pay one?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:40AM (#30456768)

    And yet your blog links to none of this "Free Music" you speak of. Seriously, mate, not even a link to Jamendo?

  • Legal reform needed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mathinker ( 909784 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:06AM (#30457030) Journal

    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.

    We need a law which says that once a judge has ruled that a corporation has brought a frivolous lawsuit against someone, anytime it sues someone in the future it needs to finance the other side's legal fees, and only gets the money back if the judge rules they deserve it.

  • by jocknerd ( 29758 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:14AM (#30457122)

    Why are you bashing U2? Because you probably weren't born when they WERE the club scene. Learn your music history dude. If you want to bash the "boy bands" and pop stars, thats fine, but not bands who worked their asses off to become the biggest act on the planet.

    Or are you one of those cool kids who likes an act until it becomes popular, then you call them a sellout? If you like artists that are unknown, fine, thats your choice. But just because an artist sells a lot of records doesn't mean they aren't worthy of my listening.

    I've seen the small club venues. I've seen the unknown acts. Sorry, but 90% of them suck. Can't play, can't sing. Every now and then, I see some real talent sneak through. I saw John Mayer in 2001 when he opened for Glen Phillips. I saw Dave Mathews when they were hitting the local bars in Virginia in 1993. I saw U2 when they played before 5,000 fans in 1983.

  • Direct with ASCAP? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by flahwho ( 1243110 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:41AM (#30457384)
    A few things have been said comparing RIAA with ASCAP, and I agree that they are both the "industry" part we'd all like to eliminate or govern better.

    so which one is worse? IMHO ASCAP is worse because they deal in all the venues - The production and manufacturing, the retail markets and the public performance places (bars, restaurants, retail stores, concert venues, malls etc). They take cuts from every part of the line including the last in line, the establishments that offer music as a service to a consumer. If you're a small business owner, with a nightclub with DJs or bands or even a store that wants to play his local radio station over his PA, you might as well figure on spending a lot of money because surely you will have an ASCAP representative knocking on your door telling you you are required to pay an outrageous fee to a PO box somewhere in Kansas. They'll bully you for months then weeks then days and threaten you with lawsuits and send you legitimate looking licensing pamphlets with absolutely no pricing and very little information about the laws or levels or types of licensing. You'll get the same info when dealing direct with ASCAP (the ONLY public point of contact direct to ASCAP is ONLY through their website- of which is also vague and semi-threatning). You'll get ink-jet printed price-sheets handed or mailed to you by these ASCAP representatives. Haggling will get you better prices, to which RED FLAGS are customary. If you do not pay, the bullying continues, lawsuits are threatened, youre forced to feel obligated to pay for something you have no idea is even a tangible item or not. If you're a small business owner, you are only dealing with the representative, the next level up is an ASCAP lawyer. Your lawyer will most likely say they have a legal right to demand the money from you, neither you nor any combined effort would be able to survive an ASCAP lawsuit.

    You may be bullied also by your local amusement provider (the company that provides jukeboxes and pool tables for rent).

    -- my sig had an Aerosmith lyric in it, but I was forced to remove it or pay a licensing fee.
  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:53AM (#30457528) Homepage Journal

    I would have self-represented if I was going on principle, and had trial in front of a judge. This is a pretty basic argument: they're suing me for playing music they have no domain over. Their only argument could be that the live performers could play some AC/DC live; at which point, I'd point out that I have electricity, and could bring in a CD player and an AC/DC CD, so maybe they should sue anyone with an electric utility. The only arguments they have are ridiculous, and ridiculing them with competent logical counter-arguments in front of a competent judge is viable.

    The other thing to do is object to stupidity meant to load you with paperwork and keep you busy until you overrun some deadline on a court order to fill out papers/show evidence. It's not my job to show evidence for your case; demand solid evidence or have their case thrown out. Once their case fails, counter-sue (with lawyer) for harassment, citing that you successfully defended yourself against their legal firm (no, really, the only thing these people practice is lawing at you) by yourself because their argument was retarded and they were abusing the court system. Sue for maximum damages and push for fines for abuse of the court systems.

  • by Painted ( 1343347 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:40AM (#30458262) Homepage
    I would argue those are a little short- I would be happy with 24 years, or hell, anything shy of 50 years (maybe a 25 year with one extension if the author, and not his estate/corporate interest, desires). Software, on the other hand, should probably only have a 10 year copyright, at least until the pace of technological advance slows down massively. At that point we could revisit software copyrights...
  • by CharlieHedlin ( 102121 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:45AM (#30458374)

    I think artists should be able to set the rates for their songs. If their song gets very popular they can slowly ratchet up the royalties and avoid being overplayed into oblivion. Modern technology makes this possible, we don't have to do it the way we have for a century. There would still need to be an organization such as ASCAP to operate the market, publish rates, and take tallies of songs played. Radio station software could show the royalties on each song and tally as they played. Juke boxes could store tallies and update rates on a different schedule.

    On the other hand, there will always be people cheating the system, current or proposed. Copyright needs to be adjusted to match society, not the other way around.

  • by Kalvos ( 137750 ) <> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:33PM (#30460174) Homepage

    Okay, without getting too personal (this is Slashdot, after all), I'll say that I'm both a composer and a publisher member of ASCAP (my one-person company publishes the works of four composers). It is all tied together so that without ASCAP, there is no network of resources to provide income (I'm not an academic). Those royalties, my paper score and recording sales, an annual award, commissions for new compositions, music engraving (computer typesetting) and recording/restoration make up my income. Some years performances are good, but last year performances (mine and the other three composers) were few because the economy kicked our butts, and I know already royalties this quarter won't be the majority of my income.

    The IRS considers my income from composition.


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