Did it sound like I said that? Gosh, I never said that ...
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 96 16:06:56 -0700
Subject: Did it sound like I said that? Gosh, I never said that ...
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ASCAP Changes Its Tune [ Washington Post, August 28, 1996 ]
Never Intended to Collect Fees for Scouts' Campfire Songs, Group Says
By Ken Ringle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Reeling from the worst public relations disaster since Dan Quayle misspelled
"potato," the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)
now says that "ASCAP has never sought nor was it ever its intention" to make
Girl Scouts pay to sing around a campfire. Other campers? Well, maybe.
Vincent Candilora, ASCAP's vice president and director of licensing, vaguely
suggested that dark forces may have been behind a Wall Street Journal article
last week that disclosed that the songwriters' group had sought this year for
the first time in history to collect fees from children's summer camps.
"They buy paper, twine and glue for their crafts -- they can pay for the
music, too," ASCAP CEO John Lo Frumento told the Journal.
Candilora conceded that ASCAP had cast a wide and nondiscriminating net in
notifying the nation's 8,000-odd summer camps that federal copyright law
requires them to fork over fees to ASCAP for any songs they use.
But he said Lo Frumento had been quoted out of context when he promised to
"sue them if necessary" if they didn't pay for their campfire songs. And he
was particularly insistent that ASCAP wasn't picking on the Girl Scouts, even
though it has already collected fees from 16 Girl Scout camps this year. Any
fees collected from the Scouts will be returned, he said.
In the wake of news stories and editorials picturing ASCAP throttling tiny,
hopeful renditions of "Puff the Magic Dragon," Candilora said the
organization had been besieged with protests from both the public and its
Lo Frumento was reported unavailable for comment yesterday on the protests,
but his son Peter, a salaried ASCAP spokesman, released a statement from
ASCAP President Marilyn Bergman saying, "It has always been in the interest
of our members to encourage the use of music anywhere -- particularly by
Candilora said ASCAP still intends to collect what fees it can from large,
profitable summer camps -- "the sort that bring in bands for square dances,
have music by the pool . .. and are like sending your kid to a resort." But
he said he "would assume the organization has other priorities" than to crack
down on mom-and-pop camps and campfire songs, regardless of what its mailings
earlier this year may have implied.
"What can I say? We bought a mailing list. We should have done more
research," Candilora said.
ASCAP, he emphasized, is "a nonprofit organization owned by its member
songwriters and composers" that returns to them 83 cents of every domestic
licensing dollar it collects. Last year it collected some $320 million in
licensing fees in the United States, he said, and returned $254 million. The
remaining $66 million went for operating costs, he said, heavily augmented by
membership and licensing fees collected overseas.
© 1996 Peter Langston