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The Music-Copyright Enforcers

Great great article:

Performing rights organizations in the United States came into being in 1914, when a group of musicians, including Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and John Philip Sousa, founded the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, otherwise known as ASCAP, the nation’s first P.R.O., in 1914. It was formed in response to a 1909 amendment to United States copyright law that explicitly provided for performance rights as opposed to mechanical rights (paid to a performer who plays a song, regardless of who wrote it) or sync rights (music synchronized to pictures). The law — and ASCAP — were given new force when Herbert, then a celebrity composer for Broadway, sued a New York restaurant called Shanley’s after hearing one of his compositions performed there. The case took a couple of years to wind through the courts, but in the end, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes decided for Herbert. “If music did not pay, it would be given up,” Holmes wrote. “Whether it pays or not, the purpose of employing it is profit and that is enough.”

via The Music-Copyright Enforcers – NYTimes.com.

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