With the Apple event last week, I was a bit surprised at the ringtone announcement. At first glance, it seemed like a money grab. What, 99¢ for songs you already have? I don't get it.
Today I came upon the concept that music publishers consider a ringtone a "performance" of the song that must be licensed separately, hence there are actual costs to Apple if it wants to say "this is a ringtone".
For more background, read an <A href="http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061024-8063.html>"Ars Technica article from last year. The FAQ at Harry Fox Agency (the largest issuer of music licenses in the US) is interesting to read through as well.
Ringtones for 99¢? Apparently, we should be glad to be paying so little. Or being allowed to use them at all? In any case, it seems to be fairly simple to use some file renaming to make ringtones out of existing songs.