Music Business

Justice Dept. Opens Review of ASCAP, BMI Consent Decrees

Justice DeptThe U.S. Justice Department will review two consent decrees originally reached in 1941 with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc (BMI) to establish how the organizations, which license approximately 90% of music in the United States, must operate.

Under the consent decrees, the two organizations are currently required to license to anyone upon request, with pricing disputes being settled by a judge, however, a decision on the matter could seriously impact the business of licensing music to online companies, movie chains, commercials, bars and restaurants.

As part of its review, the department will also be looking over old consent decrees, many of which do not have an expiration date, with the intention of dropping those which are out of date. The Justice Department will be accepting comments on the matter through July 10.

ASCAP and BMI are welcoming the review saying it will allow for an update of the music licensing business.

"Thanks to the DOJ’s review, we now have the unique opportunity to reimagine the music marketplace in today’s digital age," says ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews. "A more flexible framework with less government regulation will allow us to compete in a free market, which we believe is the best way for our music creators to be rewarded for the value of their music.  A free market would level the playing field, encourage competition and allow us to innovate on behalf of music creators and licensees alike, while ensuring fair compensation for songwriters."

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