We reported earlier this week on moves afoot in the US to modernise / replace the longstanding ‘consent decrees’ governing licensing in the US. Now collecting societies BMI and ASCAP have published an open letter setting out their views on what should happen. They are calling for an “orderly transition” with new decrees that would include a “fairer, more efficient, less costly and automatic mechanism for the payment of interim fees” for performance royalties, as well as a system where BMI and ASCAP will “continue to receive non-exclusive U.S. rights from our writers and publishers, which allows licensees, songwriters, composers and publishers to still do direct deals if they so choose”.

That’s an important aspect of the demands for modernisation, with several publishers having sought to partially remove their catalogues from BMI and ASCAP to do those kinds of deals with digital services.

The CEOs of the two societies also warned against “a push in Congress by music users to create a compulsory licensing model” for these rights. “Compulsory licensing would take us backwards, not forward, creating a system in which the government – not the market – would determine the value of songwriters’ work. It could also have dire consequences for other creative industries.” Read the full letter here.

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