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Groups to DOJ: ASCAP BMI consent decrees provide important safeguards

A group of 10 hospitality, tech and broadcast groups warned the Department of Justice that weakening the performance rights consent decrees covering ASCAP and BMI would harm both consumers and individual songwriters.

The members of MIC (Music.Innovation.Consumers) Coalition also urged the DOJ to include SESAC, the third performance rights organization, in the scope of the ASCAP BMI consent decree.

“Without the protections of the consent decrees, licensees would be subject to individual negotiations with potentially hundreds of thousands of licensors, almost all of which possess significant market power over non-substitutable musical works. This would harm all stakeholders involved, including not only consumers, but also the individual songwriters who benefit from the efficient and competitive marketplace that the consent decrees ensure,” the groups wrote Monday in a letter to U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch.

The DOJ is currently in the process of reviewing the consent decrees that governs how ASCAP and BMI license their extensive catalog of songs to businesses for public performance.

Last month, the radio industry reached a settlement in a lawsuit with SESAC which establishes a rate-making procedure comparable to those required of ASCAP and BMI, and makes the scope of rights granted to the radio industry equivalent to what radio operators currently have with ASCAP and BMI.

“The Department should maintain and strengthen the important safeguards provided by the consent decrees, particularly in times of unprecedented consolidation in the publishing industry, to further promote a stable and transparent marketplace for musical works,” the groups wrote.

Signing the letter to the DOJ:

American Beverage Licensees
American Hotel and Lodging Association
Computer and Communications Industry Association
Consumer Electronics Association
Digital Media Association
Educational Media Foundation
National Association of Broadcasters
National Council of Chain Restaurants
National Restaurant Association
National Retail Federation