It's no secret that copyright law is a bit out of step with the times these days, and probably could use a massive rewrite. The problem is that Congress is continually retrofitting it with changes and additions that tend to lead to even more problems and certainly don't make the system any better prepared to deal with ongoing changes in the content marketplace. Take, for example, the latest court battle, where performing rights organization ASCAP tried to claim that music downloads from online services should count as "public performances." Why? Because copyright law allows for performance rights, meaning that if downloads are performances, ASCAP can collect more royalties for each download. This is mainly because performance rights can be negotiated (or denied), while other rights are compulsory. Luckily a federal judge had a bit of common sense and pointed out that downloads are not public performances
, though there will likely be a series of appeals on this issue. The key point is that the inability of copyright law to flexibly deal with digital music and networks means we're only going to see more attempts like this one where stakeholders try to squeeze more money out of the system through legal loopholes, rather than through providing more value to music consumers.