August 2019 – Update from NRB MLC

Dear NRBMLC/NRBNMLC Members:

DOJ Comments Filed: Your committee, along with several other music consumer groups, filed comments opposing the Department of Justice’s “re-evaluation” of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. Some of those who filed are music licensing industry committees (like NRBMLC) that represent their constituents at the negotiating table with ASCAP and BMI. This DOJ review could lead to the potential softening or “sunsetting” of the decrees. Such would potentially be disastrous to our system of music licensing.

Here is a sample paragraph from our comments:

“ASCAP and BMI have continued to resist competitive alternatives to their blanket licenses, and the judges overseeing these PROs’ Consent Decrees have continued to provide an essential check on the PROs’ anticompetitive preferences…”

The consent decree protection your committee depends on while negotiating ASCAP and BMI licenses is vital. Without them, it’s a “gun to your head” negotiation, regardless of whether the ASCAP and BMI terms offered are competitive.

Web V Written Direct Cases to be filed September 23, 2019: Web V is a full litigation before the Copyright Royalty Board to set digital sound recording rates for the 2021-2025 term. This proceeding enters its next phase on September 23rd – with “Written Direct Cases.” Your committee has attempted negotiations with SoundExchange for several months, but they appear unlikely to be resolved by that time. Thus, each party is required to file a “Written Direct Case” by September 23, followed by the “Discovery” phase beginning on September 27th.

When direct cases and discovery begin, things get pricey. There is a chance, however, that help on critical aspects of the case will come from NAB, which has retained the law firm of Latham and Watkins to represent its commercial members.

NRBNMLC Streaming Licenses Remain a Priority: ASCAP and BMI streaming licenses for our noncommercial stations remain a high priority for NRBNMLC. Good progress has been made with ASCAP, and the BMI streaming license talks are proceeding. Until these license terms are settled, if your noncom station(s) are represented by NRBNMLC, they are licensed to stream ASCAP and BMI music.

Our sincere thank you to those who support our work! The future of noncommercial streaming is not a given. You may recall that NRBNMLC was unable to reach a negotiated license during Web IV (SoundExchange would not negotiate with us), leading us into litigation and resulting in soaring rates.

There is a point where, without prudent work from your committee, in court and on Capitol Hill, streaming (SoundExchange) rates could go through the roof. Your prayers and financial help are appreciated!

Gratefully,

Scott R. Hunter
Executive Director

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