AOL, RealNetworks, Yahoo could be forced to pay $100 million in music royalties

“Time Warner Inc’s AOL unit, RealNetworks and Yahoo Inc could stand to pay up to $100 million in royalties owed to thousands of songwriters and publishers, after a federal judge established a formula for determining the payments,” Eric Auchard reports for Reuters.

“The move could force the three online services to pay royalties to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) worth 2.5 percent of their music revenue dating back to 2002, ASCAP said,” Auchard reports.

“But Bob Kimball, the general counsel for defendant RealNetworks, said the federal court ruling provided only a framework for talks on potential royalties. ‘This is a long way from being over,’ Kimball said. ‘To be clear, the court did not award $100 million in royalties,'” Auchard reports. “He said an extended appeals process was likely once the trial court decision is final.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Eric” for the heads up.]

Gee, maybe Rob Glaser should sue Microsot again?


  1. ASCAP and BMI do have a point here. Were not talking about Music Licensed by the labels for sale like is with iTunes for which the Writers are already being paid by the Music Labels. This is for recordings made by and owned and or streamed in their entirety by AOL, Real Networks and Yahoo. The Writers currently are not being paid for this use.
    As an example say an, Artists does a live streaming show with AOL and AOL records the live performance for redistribution. While AOL owns the rights for the live performance (or has redistribution rights) the composer/writer is currently not compensated. The Composers/Writers are just seeking fair compensation for their work. After all AOL paid the performer and AOL was paid by the advertisers/sponsors. Is it fair to exclude the composers/writers from being paid too?

  2. Meanwhile …

    Russian digital music price slasher makes a gaudy reappearance in a veritable plethora of visages. They claim to be paying royalties, even. I’m doubting it, however. I’m also scairt to give ’em my card info. Anybody in here had the cojones to try them yet?

  3. Informed:

    I’m not certain where you get your “informed-ation” but setting license structures is exactly Congress’ job. Or, under some circumstances, the Executive branch’s job.

    But judges should never, under any circumstances, create law, only determine – or help determine, if a jury is involved – whether existing laws are being followed. And once that determination has been made, they are supposed to turn the matter back over to Congress or the Executive branch. Judges creating law is a enormous problem in this country (i.e. the US).

  4. Before asking for laws, remember there are essentially three types of “law” in the US (originally based on the English system):
    • “statutory law” – enacted by Congress
    • “common law” – mostly set by precedents; i.e., judicial decisions
    • “equity law” – based on the Principles of Equity that evolved from Roman justice

    (Disclaimer: IANAL)

  5. Let me guess… These are all subscription based services?

    People still use AOL? Is it still it’s own little internet within the internet like it was in the 90’s? Is it still dial-up?

    Real Networks sells music? Why?

    I’ve heard you can get music from Yahoo somehow, but that’s only if you can find the music link out of the hundred or so links and buttons on their home page.

  6. @ Galloway

    Before claiming that “judges should never, under any circumstances, create law,” you need to take a look at the definition of “common law.” Many people in current politics seem to have forgot about this.

  7. @Galloway

    Judges make law all the time, that is what the entirety of the common law is. However, judge made law is supposed to be marginal or interstitial, it is not supposed to create whole new legal frameworks. That is where the problem arises from ‘judge-made law.’


    There is also a fourth type of law: Regulatory law. That is law made without any check or balance by people who are not elected and cannot easily be fired. Most of the laws governing the U.S. today are this fourth pernicious type.

  8. The Executive branch does not make laws. Only Congress can pass laws.

    The terms and conditions of licensing agreements are negotiated between the parties to the agreement, subject to any existing laws and/or regulations. In other words, you can’t contract around laws or regulations and claim a benefit.

    These licensing agreements are mostly private agreements, subject to regulations imposed by various federal and state agencies.

    Congress most definitely does NOT need to pass a law regarding the amount of royalties should be paid in music licensing agreements. That is for the parties to negotiate, and if they have a dispute, then they take it to court.

    That is what happened here. The parties disagreed as to how much should be paid in royalties, most likely because the contracts were not clear as to how royalties should be calculated. Therefore, the judge, DOING HIS JOB, heard the evidence, read the documents, applied appropriate case (common) law, statutes and regulations, and came up with the formula.

    That formula was possibly pulled from his *ss if the contracts were too mucked up, but if multi-billion dollar companies can’t draft a proper agreement stating how they get paid, then they get what mess they made.

  9. @ dangerfrog

    You’re right, good point. I forgot to add “Regulatory law.” But I don’t agree that there are no checks or balances since Congress can override regulations via statutes and the courts can either force (ala the EPA suit) or strike down regulations (ala FCC). I think of Regulatory law as the “law of the Executive branch” living in apposition to legislative Statutory and judicial Common law.

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