A conditional settlement of the long-running litigation between Global Music Rights (GMR), a relatively new performing rights organization formed to license the public performance rights to certain musical works, and the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) was announced this week. The terms of the agreement are confidential, so we can’t comment on the specifics of the deal. But each commercial radio station represented by RMLC should have received a proposed license agreement from GMR. The settlement will only be effective if an undisclosed number of radio broadcasters agree to the terms of the agreement by January 31, 2022. For stations that do not agree by that date, or if not enough stations opt into the agreement causing the settlement to fail, the press release about the agreement says that GMR has made no commitment to extend the current interim license (about which we wrote here) beyond its current expiration date of March 31, 2022. Thus, stations would need to otherwise negotiate an agreement with GMR, pull GMR music from their stations, or risk a lawsuit for playing the music without permission. If your commercial radio station did not receive a communication from GMR in the last few days, and if you play any GMR music and you are not covered by an independently negotiated agreement, you should discuss with counsel whether you should reach out to GMR to see why you were not offered a license. Similarly, if not all your stations were included in the offer you received, discuss with counsel whether to communicate with GMR.
While we cannot comment on the specifics of the deal because it remains confidential, there are some observations that can be made based on the public statement released by RMLC and GMR. One of the first questions is why the settlement is conditioned on enough stations agreeing to it by January 31. First, it is important to note that the agreement by RMLC to any royalty with any music rights organization does not bind all commercial broadcasters, or even RMLC’s members, to accept the deals that it has negotiated. See, for instance, the agreements in the last few years with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, all of which required broadcasters who wanted to be covered by the negotiated agreement to opt in by a date certain. While a wide cross-section of broadcast companies is represented on the Board of RMLC which approved this agreement, the Board members do not bind their companies or the rest of the radio industry to accept the terms that were negotiated.
Continue Reading GMR and RMLC Announce Confidential Settlement on Music Royalties for Commercial Radio Stations – Broadcasters Must Decide Whether to Opt In by January 31