Freedom to Ring

Previously I had mentioned an “interesting” case about American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers asserting that when somebody’s cell phone’s musical ringtone sounds in a public place, they are infringing copyrights.  Here is the update about the case from EFF:

A federal court yesterday firmly rejected that argument, ruling that “when a ringtone plays on a cellular telephone, even when that occurs in public, the user is exempt from copyright liability, and [the cellular carrier] is not liable either secondarily or directly.”

The ruling is an important victory for consumers, making it clear that playing music in public, when done without any commercial purpose, does not infringe copyright. That’s thanks to Section 110(4) of the Copyright Act, which exempts public performances undertaken “without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage.” In the words of the court, “customers do not play ringtones with any expectation of profit.” This ruling should also protect consumers who roll down their car windows with the radio on, who take a radio to the beach, or who sing “Happy Birthday” to their children in a public park.

Long live the right to whistle, sing and roll down your car windows!!!