Songwriters and those on the composing end of music won a small battle in court on Sept. 16 when a BMI judge shot down the Department of Justice’s unpopular decision to enforce full-works licensing.
Prior to the DOJ ruling in fractional licensing, a music licencee would have to purchase a licence from every person who owns the copy-write to a song, which is essentially the way the publishing industry get paid. For example, a radio station would have to follow these rules in order to play a song on the radio. After the DOJ implemented a full-works licensing process, broadcast networks only had to get a license from one copy-write owner and they gave the BMI and ASCAP to implement the new policy.
The two corporations agreed to fight the order, and in an unprecedented move Judge Stanton in his ruling said, “The consent decree neither bars fractional licensing nor requires full-work licensing.”
“As we have said from the very beginning, we believed our consent decree allowed for the decades-long practice of fractional licensing and today we are gratified that Judge Stanton confirmed that belief,” BMI CEO Mike O’Neill said. “Our mission has always been to protect the interests of our songwriters, composers and publishers, and we feel we have done just that. Today’s decision is a victory for the entire music community.”
ASCAP CEO Beth Matthaws was also rejoiced by the decision, and said “This is terrific news for all of us in the songwriting community as we continue to work on modernizing the consent decrees to reflect the real world.”