Do you pay a fee to have that song so you can broadcast it? If it's from the radio, no, but that's covered. If it's from a CD, then yes, you did pay, but the appropriate people are supposed to have been paid, as sales can be monitored. People blasting it from the car can't be, in practical terms.
Ringtone downloads are easily monitored, and as the article points out, the providers USED to pay the fees, but then decided to stop in light of a semi-irrelevant ruling. I don't know the fee structure for ringtone downloads, but given the wide availability of hit songs, I imagine it's a flat fee, and I'm not sure that's fair to the artists.
Mind you, this is my "spent time in the micro end of the music industry and made himself more familiar with aspects of copyright law than the average asshole venue owner in Denton" perspective. :)
How would you manage the fact that either the ringtone itself isn't a full song, or that the receiver of the call isn't going to listen to the whole thing before picking up? Are you going to cut down the cost of royalties based on the percentage of the song that the ringtone is, or on the average pickup time of the recipient? Also what about people with phones like mine where ringtones ARE purchased (I have no way to just add my own tune snippet), do I have to pay royalties on top of that even though I already purchased it (at a stupidly high cost for the 5 second clip, I might add - you can get half an album on iTunes for less)?
My primary complaint with my sidekick is the ringtone functionality (or lack of, rather). $2 seems to be the going rate for 5-9 seconds of song in the downloads catalog I have access to, which is an abhorrent cost when you can neither choose the part of the song you want or actually find the songs you want to begin with in my case.
Unless I get a developers kit and circumvent that particular roadblock, there's nothing I can do to get ringtones.
As for who pays the royalties, do you seriously think that something like that is going to go into effect without a chunk of it getting kicked down to the customer?
I'll pass on the pity, thanks. I just want some flexibility and sanity in the industry.
A buck or two for a ringtone seems absurd given that you can typically buy the entire song for a buck. Ringtones really should be on the order of about ten cents, though I can see going about as high as double that to cover the overhead.