The US Justice Department has decided to leave the ‘consent decrees’ governing public performances of music unchanged, sparking an unimpressed response from publishers and collecting societies there.
This is the legislation that means Ascap and BMI have to license their entire catalogue of music for public performance by any company that requests it.
Both PROs have been lobbying for the decrees to be modernised, and while their joint statement expressed disappointment at the latest ruling that they will be unchanged, they also suggested that there could have been a worse outcome. “We were concerned that the lack of consensus in the market could lead to a legislative push resulting in unwarranted government regulation of our industry in the form of compulsory licensing. In addition, our victory in confirming the industry-wide practice of fractional licensing would have been revisited. These factors would absolutely not be in the best interest of our songwriters, composers and publishers, and indeed, would represent a major step backward.”
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and Digital Media Association (Dima – which represents streaming services) both welcomed the decision. “Music licensing is complex, but throughout their existence the decrees’ protections have fostered an efficient marketplace that in turn has been critical to the resurgence and growth of the music industry,” said Dima president and CEO Garrett Levin.