In declining to review a lower court’s ruling on illegal downloads Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially said that under the federal copyright law, the downloading of music does not constitute a public performance of the work.
The non-profit organization American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) had argued in a suit that digital downloads were equivalent to public performances and therefore protected under federal copyright laws. It filed an appeal to the Supreme Court after a New York appeals court said that a download doesn’t fall within the law’s definition of a public performance of that work.
"Music is neither recited, rendered, nor played when a recording (electronic or otherwise) is simply delivered to a potential listener," the New York appeals court ruled. The Supreme Court denied to review the case without comment.
ASCAP has nearly 400,00 members and has said that ruling could cost them millions of dollars in royalties.