US: DOJ mulls overhaul of outdated music licensing rules

The US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced Wednesday it is seeking public comment regarding current consent decrees with the top licensing organizations, rules that are decades old and ones that the organizations say need to be overhauled.

Broadcast Music, Inc. and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers have protested the decrees in the past, reports say, on grounds that they are outdated and cannot keep up with the quickly-evolving technology involved in the music industry. The decrees are aimed at preserving competition in the music licensing market, but are now too old to do so, opponents say.

Now, the DOJ is responding to the criticism. In an announcement of its planned review, the regulator said that it “understands that ASCAP, BMI and some other firms in the music industry believe that the Consent Decrees need to be modified to account for changes in how music is delivered to and experienced by listeners.”

The rules were first introduced in the 1940s, reports say, with intentions of cracking down on anticompetitive practices between the licensing organizations and how they sell copyright licenses for public play of music pieces. Licenses would need to be obtained for music to be played on television or in restaurants, for example. But opponents say the decrees do not adequately address competition concerns in today’s times as music is played across Internet platforms, and music publishers and songwriters are not fairly compensated for those plays.

The DOJ opened up the issue to public comment through August 6, according to reports.

Full content: The Hill

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