-- In a summary judgment that is part of a larger case between ASCAP and mobile carriers, a federal court said ringtones played in public do not constitute public performances and therefore are not due performance royalties. The judgement states "when a ringtone plays on a cellular telephone, even when that occurs in public, the user is exempt from copyright liability, and [the cellular carrier] is not liable either secondarily or directly." The judgment also found mobile carriers do not publicly perform when they distribute a ringtone to their customers. "...even when the downloading of a ringtone is considered as the first link in a chain of transmissions," the court explained, "it does not qualify as a public performance."

An ASCAP spokesperson gave Billboard.biz a comment on the summary judgment. “While ASCAP is disappointed with the ringtones summary judgment issued yesterday by the US District Court, this Federal Rate Court proceeding with mobile providers is about much more than just ringtones. We have always pursued fair payment for individual music creators whose creative works are used to build the businesses of others and that effort will certainly continue.”
(EFF Deep Links)

-- Electric Pig got a preview of Sky Songs, the music service by British ISP BSkyB that will get a full launch on Monday. Sky Songs is worth extra attention because it is the first of what will be many ISP-based music services. BSkyB customers will be able to add Sky Songs to their broadband bill. That represents a big shift in how people pay for their music. (The service will be available to anybody in the UK, not just BSkyB customers.) And the verdict? Sky Songs is a "clear challenger to Spotify" and has "several features not found on Spotify's arsenal." It's an interesting pro-con list because Sky Songs' alleged strengths are all things that have not stood in the way of Spotify's success. Sky Songs is browser-based, which means there is no application to install on one's work computer. It recommends music, a function missing from Spotify's arsenal but obviously not greatly missed by its users. Sky Songs has a simple - and easily duplicated by competitors - function of selecting favorite songs. And even if you ignore Sky Songs' package of monthly downloads, it still comes out to be less expensive than Spotify (£6.49 ($10.55) a month for the cheapest version of Sky Songs versus £9.99 ($16.24) for the advertising-free version of Spotify).
(Electric Pig)

-- Daniel Ek offered some stats on Spotify in a speech on Wednesday: Spotify's six million users are averaging 72 minutes per day, and it is adding 30,000 to 50,000 users per day. Spotify has also fixed up its song purchasing function on the desktop client - a YouTube video demonstration is here. A purchase takes "only a few clicks."

-- Wolfgang's Vault has released an updated version of its free iPhone app. Concert Vault allows users to stream from the vaults of the company's collection of live concerts by nearly 1,700 classic artists. The app now includes a list of featured concerts and has improved streaming performance.
(Digital Noise)

-- Country sales are down 1.2% year to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Country's digital album sales are up 50%, a much better figure than the overall figure of 22%. Last week, Toby Keith's American Ride debuted with first-week sales of 90,000 (10% digital) and Luke Bryan's Doin' My Thing debuted with 58,000 units (15% digital).
(Music Row)

-- The click-control model, by Bruce Warilla. "The business models of rights holders are finally catching up with Internet culture. Not only are labels figuring out that there's not enough ROI in the bubble/lottery model to keep it going, they are also embracing 360 deals which create an alignment of economic interests between artists and investors. In these deals, music can be set free (preferably for period) to encourage viral promotion of a song or an artist; then it's in every stakeholder's interest, once some optimal level of viral exposure has been obtained, to be able to fully reclaim some or all rights. There are other benefits, as this model more closely tracks the slow-build, organic growth curve that most products (there are exceptions) on the Internet have to follow."
(Music Think Tank)