The legal issues surrounding the use of music in broadcast and digital media is one of those topics that is usually enough to make eyes glaze over. The importance of understanding these issues is illustrated by this week’s request from the Department of Justice for more information about the rights of songwriters to authorize ASCAP and BMI (often referred to as Performing Rights Organizations or PROs) to license their works to services like radio stations and webcasters when there are multiple songwriters who may not all be members of the same rights organization. While we try to provide some explanations of some of those issues on this Blog, I wanted to point to a couple of other resources available to address some of these issues and to, hopefully, help make some of those issues understandable.
First, I wanted to note that I’ll be moderating a panel on current music issues at the NAB Radio Show in Atlanta on Thursday afternoon (the panel is described here) featuring representatives of the NAB, RIAA, BMI, Pandora and the Copyright Office. Hopefully, we’ll be able to unpack some of the motivations and directions of the music royalty debates that are going on in Washington DC. For those of you not able to make that panel, and even those of you who are planning to attend, a new source of information that provides a very good summary of the many music licensing issues now being considered by Congress and the courts is a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service released last week, available here. The report explains in relatively simple terms how music licensing works in the United States, and describes many of the current legislative and judicial issues that currently could affect that licensing. While obviously not addressing all of the subtleties of the arguments of all of the parties to these proceedings, the report does at least give a relatively neutral summary of the arguments of the parties.
Continue Reading Understanding Music Royalties – Congressional Research Service Releases Summary of the Law, While DOJ Asks for More Comments on ASCAP and BMI Consent Decree Reform