30-Seconds of Greed?

The two big music licensing groups, in their desire to make even more money, want to start charging performance fees for one of the most basic of items. The 30-second music preview. ASCAP and BMI want royalties every time somebody double clicks a song title in iTunes or the Zune Store or on Amazon to hear if the song he/she is looking to buy is the right one. That's great. Luckily for the consumer, the store would end up getting charged, but if it ends up becoming too expensive, it will somehow filter down to we the buyer. This could result in higher per-song charges, a limit to song previews or, worst-case, an end to the song preview. None of these scenarios are good for anyone. The previews sell songs. Without being able to preview the song, I won't be buying as many.

ASCAP and BMI call the previews a public performance and, therefore, deserve payment. Does this mean that if I hear somebody's cell phone ring, I should have to pay for that privilege? What about if I go into a store that plays piped-in music? Another payment? Is this justified or just greed? I would like to read your thoughts on this subject. Now, if you'll excuse me, a car with a loud stereo just passed by, I have to write a check.