American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a non-profit performance rights organization that protects its members' musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music, whether via a broadcast or live performance, and compensating them accordingly. ASCAP collects licensing fees from users of music created by ASCAP members, then distributes them back to its members as royalties (BMI has a similar method for its members). In effect, the arrangement is the product of a compromise: when a song is played, the user does not have to pay the copyright holder directly, nor does the music creator have to bill a radio station for use of a song.

In 2005, ASCAP collected US$750 million in licensing fees and distributed US$646 million in royalties to its members, with a 12.5% operating expense ratio. In the United States, ASCAP competes with two other performing rights organizations: Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) and the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC).

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