Interesting bit from the Reid essay:
"The promoter of a small bluegrass festival informed me that they were cited by ASCAP because a Bill Monroe song was performed: Monroe's music is all BMI, but the song in question, Uncle Pen, had been arranged and recorded by Ricky Skaggs, an ASCAP artist!" ("Problems with the System", 2nd item, about 2/3rds of the way down the document)
One wonders how ASCAP's listeners (or spies) can possibly be experts in all known arrangements of "Row Row Row your Boat" or any other song, and how they can tell which one, other than one which is unique and easily distinguishable, is being performed.
My (purely private opinion, not-legal-advice) guess is that, in theory, if a venue were sued for unlicensed performance of a copyrighted arrangement of R-R-RyB and the arrangement were insufficiently original, or insufficiently distinguishable from an arrangement which was licensed (i.e. from the other syndicate), the lawsuit would fail. But as noted above, even when you win, you might still lose due to the time and expense of defending against the complaint.
The point is: how do we even find out what level of training ASCAP gives its agents and the level of expertise it expects from its hired experts ? If we think ASCAP's standards in these matters are too low, how do we bring about reform ? Mr. Reid's essay suggests that we may wait long for any improvement.