BMI Rate Court Federal Judge Rejects DOJ’s 100 Percent Licensing Decision

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BMI rate court federal judge Louis Stanton has issued an order rejecting the US Department of Justice’s recent interpretation of the consent decree. The order concludes that fractional licensing of musical works is allowed under the consent decree that BMI operates under.

That interpretation from the DOJ stated that the consent decrees that govern both BMI and ASCAP required full-works licensing. The Department of Justice also gave BMI and ASCAP one year to adopt full-works licensing. Members of the music publishing industry express grave concern earlier this year, after the Department of Justice’s announcement.

“As we have said from the very beginning, we believed our consent decree allowed for the decades-long practice of fractional licensing and today we are gratified that Judge Stanton confirmed that belief,” BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill said via a statement. “Our mission has always been to protect the interests of our songwriters, composers and publishers, and we feel we have done just that. Today’s decision is a victory for the entire music community.”

ASCAP CEO Beth Matthews said, “This is terrific news for all of us in the songwriting community as we continue to work on modernizing the consent decrees to reflect the real world.”

Also reacting to the ruling this afternoon was the National Music Publishers Association.

“Thanks to the courage of Mike O’Neil, BMI, and the entire songwriting and music publishing community, the DOJ’s disastrous views on 100% licensing have been rejected by a federal Judge,” said NMPA President & CEO David Israelite. “This is a huge win for songwriters and a huge win for the rule of copyright law.”

Sony/ATV Music Publishing’s Chairman & CEO Martin Bandier responded, “We are thrilled with Judge Stanton’s common sense interpretation of the consent decree which clarifies that BMI is not required to grant 100% licenses. His statement that “nothing in the consent decree gives support to the division’s views” could not be clearer. While the DOJ’s interpretation would have upended decades of licensing practices and caused uncertainty and disorder to everyone in the marketplace, Judge Stanton’s ruling is in the public interest and will benefit all interested parties in the music industry, including songwriters, music publishers and licensors. We can now focus once again on working on behalf of our songwriters.”

 

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Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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