Texas Governor Objects To DOJ Ruling On Fractionalized Licensing

Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has formally asked the Department of Justice to reconsider its recent decision regarding consent decrees and fractional licensing.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch dated Aug. 29, Gov. Abbott wrote to express his disagreement.

He wrote, in part, “The Texas Music Office is housed within my office and is charged by law with promoting the Texas music industry. As the head of that office, I must object to the DOJ’s position in these cases, which is both legally flawed and threatens to harm the music industry in Texas. I respectfully request that the DOJ reconsider its position.”

In June, the music publishing community responded with disappointment, shock and surprise when the Department of Justice unexpectedly introduced a 100 percent licensing model involving PROs.

The decision on 100 percent licensing means that a song co-written by an ASCAP songwriter and a BMI songwriter would be available to license with approval from just one PRO. It also means that if a songwriter owns only a portion of the song, he or she can license the full song, as long as that songwriter ensures the other credited writers are getting paid. Under the current system, known as fractionalized licensing, each copyright owner in the song takes care of licensing their portion.

Later in his letter, Gov. Abbott wrote, “This drastic change in course will have severe consequences for music artists and the music industry as a whole. Specifically, the DOJ’s conclusion will inhibit collaboration between music artists, upend longstanding practices within the music industry and further reduce royalty payments to music artists.”

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Craig Shelburne is the General Manager at MusicRow.

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