U.S. PROs Consent Decrees – DOJ Considering Lowering Your Income!

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  • #23309 Reply
    Art Munson

    Just received this from BMI. ASCAP and SESAC writers might want to contact your PRO.


    The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing BMI and ASCAP’s consent decrees and is now considering an interpretation that would have a profound effect on your relationship with BMI, your choice of creative collaborator and your livelihood as a songwriter or publisher.

    Specifically, the DOJ’s interpretation would change the way the PROs license music co-written by writers from different PROs. It would abandon the long-established industry practice of dealing fractionally with split works — where BMI collects and pays you for your share of a co-written song under our specific valuation system — in favor of a mandatory 100% licensing model.

    The DOJ is currently seeking public comments on this issue by November 20, and we urge you to read the facts below and use this opportunity to make your voice heard.

    100% licensing would allow any one co-owner of a work to license 100% of the work without needing the permission of the other co-owners. As a result, you would be impacted both creatively and financially if you collaborate and co-write a song with an ASCAP writer.

    In a 100% licensing world, if a music user decides to license your co-written song from ASCAP and not BMI:

    • ASCAP could license your co-written works at ASCAP’s own rate, not under BMI’s specific valuation system.
    • ASCAP could reduce your payment by its own overhead rate even before it enters BMI’s distribution system.
    • You could be subject to ASCAP’s distribution methodology, not BMI’s.
    • Your royalty distributions could be delayed by this process.

    If this interpretation were put into action, in order to avoid this and ensure that only BMI licenses your share in co-written works, you would have to collaborate only with other BMI writers (and even then, with no guarantee that they would remain at BMI). Suddenly, your choice of collaborator would no longer be determined by choosing the best writer for the job; it would be driven by the co-writer’s affiliation.

    If you want to be free to work with your choice of collaborator, to create the best songs possible and to be paid individually and fairly for your share of the work, let the DOJ know where you stand on this issue before it issues its final position.

    BMI has made the outreach process simple. Use our online tool to add your name to the list of songwriters, composers and publishers opposed to the DOJ’s interpretation of BMI’s decree.



    #23310 Reply
    Art Munson


    #23311 Reply

    Thanks Art. Just saw this email in my inbox as well.
    I will definitely commenting on this today…

    #23312 Reply

    Got the email from BMI too.
    I added my name on the list.

    #23315 Reply

    Signed and submitted! And this is justice how?

    #23316 Reply
    Happy Ears

    I wonder how that would work for BMI writers who has co writers with foreign PROs then ? I guess for safety it’s probably best to tell Libraries to make sure they use their BMI entities to collect for a foreign PRO co writer in those cases. I know some libraries default to their ASCAP publishing entities on foreign PRO writers so probably best to request it.

    #23359 Reply

    Here’s an explanation of the review from the DOJ website: http://www.justice.gov/atr/antitrust-consent-decree-review-ascap-and-bmi-2015

    From that information: The Antitrust Division previously solicited public comments regarding several potential modifications to the Consent Decrees (http://www.justice.gov/atr/ascap-bmi-decree-review). In the course of this process, industry stakeholders recommended additional modifications regarding ASCAP’s and BMI’s licensing practices related to jointly owned works.

    I understand the potential problems, as explained on the BMI website (and in a Billboard article, et. al.), but I’m not sure I understand why the DOJ is proposing these changes. What’s the upside?

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