The judge presiding over the royalty litigation between BMI and the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) approved the settlement between these parties by an order released on March 23. At the same time, the judge approved an order keeping the specifics of the approved settlement confidential for 30 days while the settlement is being implemented – so the specific terms of the deal have not been publicly released. We wrote here about the announcement of that settlement and the fact that it does not clear all rights to podcast music. The litigation was over the music royalties to be paid by the commercial radio industry to BMI for the public performance of musical compositions which BMI licenses (see our article here about the initiation of this rate court proceeding). Look for more details about that settlement later this month when the agreements are supposed to be made public (assuming no subsequent delays, given the current crisis).
The settlement of this case still leaves many other music royalty issues for the commercial radio industry. Many of these are supposed to be resolved this year but with the upending of the economy by the pandemic and its impact on the operations of broadcasters and other organizations involved in these issues, who knows when these issues will be decided? The issues include the resolution or arbitration of a new 3-year agreement with SESAC (see our article here on the last royalty decision on SESAC royalties) and the ongoing litigation with GMR (see our last article on this litigation here). On top of those proceedings dealing with rights to specific musical compositions, we still have pending a broad review by the Department of Justice of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees governing the compositions licensed by those organizations (see our articles here and here). Plus, for the digital streaming of sound recordings, we have a Copyright Royalty Board proceeding to determine the royalty rates to be paid to SoundExchange for the years 2021-2025, which was scheduled to be decided by year’s end. But, as we wrote here, the multi-week trial in that proceeding, which was to have started in March, has been postponed because of the COVID-19 crisis. In this time of great uncertainty throughout the economy, these many important music royalty issues remain pending for the radio industry.