The rejection is a defeat for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, which asked for the review. ASCAP said the lower-court ruling has cost the nation's music industry tens of millions of dollars in potential royalties annually, The Economic Times reported.
ASCAP was the plaintiff in the lower courts and licenses about half of all music played online, court records said. If downloading was considered a public performance, the licensees would receive a fee for that performance.
A section of the federal Copyright Act says that to perform a work means to recite, render, play, dance or act it either directly or by means of any device or process.
But a U.S. appeals court in New York ruled, "Music is neither recited, rendered, nor played when a recording [electronic or otherwise] is simply delivered to a potential listener."
The appeals court also said fees paid by Yahoo! and RealNetworks Inc. for licenses to play music on the Internet should be recalculated, but that part of the ruling was contested before the Supreme Court, The Economic Times reported.
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