Frontiers of Permission Culture

A few days after the (please put your indecent adjective here) decision of a U.S. jury in a federal retrial to penalize Jammie Thomas-Rasset with $1.92 Million for 24 songs she downloaded from internet (for those of you who are not good with numbers that makes $80,000 per song), the copyright industry seems to seek new frontiers for creating their own “permission culture” and a new revenue source (Baruh 2006; Lessig 2004).  They think that every time your phone rings in public is publicly performing without a license to publicly perform the copyrighted material. Electronic Frontiers Foundation Reports:

ASCAP (the same folks who went after Girl Scouts for singing around a campfire) appears to believe that every time your musical ringtone rings in public, you’re violating copyright law by “publicly performing” it without a license. At least that’s the import of a brief [2.5mb PDF] it filed in ASCAP’s court battle with mobile phone giant AT&T.

This will doubtless come as a shock to the millions of Americans who have legitimately purchased musical ringtones, contributing millions to the music industry’s bottom line  (full story)

In an effort to make a guess about what can come next, I propose the following newspaper headline:

Commuter Train Pirate Caught and Punished

(May 12, 2014, Associated Press) Lemi Baruh was sentenced to pay $80,000 in royalties for whistling Linkin Park’s “Given Up” in a commuter train. The jury also asked that Lemi Baruh agree not to whistle ever again…

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