US Justice Department to Review Performance Rights Licensing

The New York Times reported that the Justice Department will begin to review the nearly 75-year-old regulations that govern the licensing practices of ASCAP & BMI. These performing rights organizations claim “their ability to collect fair rates for their music in the digital age is undermined by the government’s regulatory agreements, known as consent decrees….According to the consent decrees, which were instituted in 1941 after federal antitrust investigations, ASCAP and BMI cannot refuse licenses to music outlets that request them, and their agreements are subject to approval by two federal judges.”

 

SoundExchange CEO Addresses Lack of Payment for Pre-1972 Songs

Mike Huppe, the CEO of SoundExchange, did a recent interview with Nate Rau for the Tennessean where he addresses the inconsistency of payments between pre and post 1972 recordings. Sirius XM, Pandora and others claim they don’t have to pay royalties for broadcasting songs that were released before Congress extended federal copyright protections to cover sound recordings, which it did in 1972.

The Tennessean: Is it about fair rates that Pandora and others pay?

Huppe: We’ve been open and outspoken that it is not fair that certain digital radio services pay for post-1972 recordings and they don’t pay for pre-1972 recordings. As a policy matter, as a moral matter, as an ethical matter, that makes no sense.

I think this helps highlight the fact that tonight we’ll have some of the hottest new 2014 acts sitting in the round with influencers from pre-1972. When you think of value, part of the way we express value is paying for things. Does it really make sense that this old, seminal, influential figure in the industry doesn’t get compensated for this avenue? But this new, up-and-coming act, who by the way wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the music that inspired them, does get paid?

States including Tennessee have filed bills to pay for pre-’72 recordings on digital radio. It failed here, but has passed in other places. What does SoundExchange think needs to happen?

Huppe: We think the best long-term, simplest fix would be a federal law that extends all the rights for pre-’72 for digital radio that are there for post-’72 recordings.