On Wednesday, a U.S. district court ruled that AOL, Yahoo, and RealNetworks must pay a percentage of their revenues derived from music-oriented services to the American Society of Composers, Artists, and Publishers (ASCAP). However, the three companies were unable to agree on the rates owed the songwriters, and so a court stepped in and now the payments owed by the three companies may equal $100 million.
This is now more than a decade-long issue, with hearings having first taken place in October and November 1997. During the hearings, the court reviewed 203 exhibits and heard from nearly a dozen witnesses. As per a 2001 ruling, the district court was brought in to decide what rates the websites should actually pay.
The fees at issue here are in addition to what each company already pays record labels for music, and video providers for videos.