Most Americans carry their cell phones everywhere. Cell phone users can purchase ringtones to replace the traditional telephone ring. But often the ringtones are excerpts from copyrighted works, including popular music. This technology has grown enormously in a short time span, forcing lawmakers to consider its applicability to copyright laws that predate ringtones' existence by nearly fifty years. This Note examines the mechanical license provision of the Copyright Act of 1976, including its overlooked legislative history, to determine whether the mechanical license applies to ringtones. It concludes that the statute's requirements exclude most types of ringtones from the scope of the mechanical license provision.
Daniel M. Simon,
Cell Phone Ringtones: A Case Study Exemplifying the Complexities of the Section 115 Mechanical License of the Copyright Act of 1976,
57 Duke Law Journal
Available at: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/dlj/vol57/iss6/8