Article

DOJ declines to modify consent decrees, angers PROs.”

August 2016

Greenberg Glusker music law partner William I. Hochberg was quoted in an August 4, 2016, Daily Journal article, “DOJ declines to modify consent decrees, angers PROs.”

In a decision that is already being challenged by two leading performing rights organizations (PROs), the Department of Justice announced it would implement stricter mandates on antitrust consent decrees governing music royalties, rather than easing the restrictions as requested. According to a joint press release from the Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP):

“BMI today announced it is taking legal action and has initiated the process to challenge 100% licensing in Federal Court. Concurrently, ASCAP announced that it will take the lead for the two PROs in pursuing a legislative solution to ensure the continued availability of fractional licensing as well as other remedies to the outdated consent decree regulations that disadvantage songwriters and composers in the digital age.”

The DOJ's updated requirements for full-work licenses reflect the Federal Copyright Act, which allows any joint author of a work to grant 100 percent license to a song, explained Hochberg. But even though the act allows for it, in practice, "the way things are done is you go to each author and get their respective publisher to agree," he said.

Hochberg also indicated that the DOJ’s actual language that BMI and ASCAP “offer” licenses is open for interpretation, “Whether they’re saying you must do it, that’s not clear. I think there could be agreements that could be worked out to get around it.”

Greenberg Glusker and William Hochberg will continue to follow developments on this issue.