Friday, 05 August 2016 21:24

ASCAP, BMI Lose Battle To Modify Antitrust Licensing Deals

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ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) suffered a blow, when the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") decided not to accept proposed changes to music licensing antitrust agreements which have been in place since 1941. These licensing agreements bind these two music performance rights organizations and shape the landscape of music licensing.

ASCAP and BMI contends that the 75-year old rules in place, disadvantage songwriters and composers in the era of digital music and on-line streaming. Instead, the DOJ asserts that the in place "full-work" licensing, licenses that give radio, television stations, bars, restaurants and online music services the right to play music for which ASCAP or BMI hold the rights to, are the proper mechanism. The DOJ opined that the requested modifications would "disrupt the status quo." Under the current types of licenses, if a song has multiple writers, any of them could grant ASCAP or BMI the right to fully license the song. The DOJ believes the current full-work licensing and fractional payments practice is the most beneficial to both the writers and those who want to play their music.

ASCAP and BMI have opposed the recent DOJ interpretations of the licensing rules, saying it could limit the freedom of authors to decide how they wish to be paid for their work and through which organization. BMI has stated that it plans to file a lawsuit in Federal Court against the DOJ, while ASCAP announced it will work on new legislation in Congress.

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David Andrew Joseph

Mr. Joseph earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from The Florida State University College of Business, and his law degree, from Loyola University New Orleans. While at Loyola University he served on the board of the Hispanic Latino Student Association, and earned a certificate in International Legal Studies. Mr. Joseph is admitted to practice law in the State of Florida, as well as in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Mr. Joseph is fluent in Spanish, and is a member of the American Bar Association and the Dade County Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section.