Lawmakers and officials consider overhaul of music-licensing rules

Posted on: March 1, 2019

“Justice Department officials and lawmakers are considering an overhaul of longstanding music-licensing rules that have pitted songwriters and publishers against the businesses, broadcasters and digital streaming services that want to play their compositions,” write Brent Kendall and Anne Steele in Tuesday’s (2/26) Wall Street Journal (subscription required). “The Justice Department in the coming weeks is expected to call for public input on whether it should modify or terminate two legal agreements that have governed how music has been licensed since 1941.… The review is part of a broader Justice Department effort to revisit agreements… crafted decades ago across of range of industries…. The agreements apply to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers [ASCAP] and to Broadcast Music Inc. [BMI], the two most dominant performance-rights organizations, or PROs, that together license about 90% of the music in the U.S. on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, chair of the Judiciary Committee, sent Justice Department Antitrust Chief Makan Delrahim “a letter earlier this month saying a termination of the decrees ‘without first working with my committee and the Congress as a whole to establish an alternative licensing framework, could severely disrupt the entire music licensing marketplace.’ ”

Posted March 1, 2019