Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) will file a submission tomorrow (Aug. 6) in response to the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice’s request for public comments as part of its review of BMI’s consent decree. According to BMI, the consent decree that BMI operates under restricts the company to a model that no longer reflects the current needs of songwriters, publishers and music users.
“The time has come to modernize the BMI consent decree. We appreciate the U.S. Department of Justice’s solicitation of public comments as part of the modernization process,” said Michael O’Neill, BMI President & CEO. “Our goal is to better serve our affiliates and music users, and the DOJ’s request facilitates an industry-wide open dialogue needed for critical reforms.”
BMI’s submission to the DOJ outlines three important updates to the consent decree:
- Digital Rights Withdrawal: Allow publishers to give BMI the right to license works for certain uses, while permitting publishers to retain the exclusive right to license works for other defined, digital uses. This move would allow BMI to offer access to its repertoire for many traditional music uses, while enabling publishers and music users to negotiate their own free-market digital deals.
- Bundling Rights: Clarify the decree to allow BMI to license not just the public performing right, but any rights relating to the musical work that a music user needs to bring its product or service to the public. This will create a “one-stop” licensing source to meet the needs and match the pace of the digital marketplace.
- Arbitration: Move the rate-setting forum from federal court to a binding arbitration model. Music users will be assured of a rate-setting mechanism to resolve disputes, but one that’s quicker and less expensive for all parties.
“Our proposed modifications to the decree will benefit not only our affiliates but the rights marketplace in general,” said Stuart Rosen, BMI Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “While we feel that there are additional important modifications necessary to modernize the decree, the proposals in today’s filing are the most urgent and, we believe, need to be addressed on a faster timetable.”
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