January 2018 – Update from the NRB MLC

Dear Friends,

As we usher in 2018, it’s apparent that the pace of change in the music licensing world is steadily increasing. Last year alone has brought: (a) an unhappy, year-end Christmas “gift” from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals involving “fractional” licensing, (b) continued entrenchment in the long battle between the RMLC and GMR, (c) slow but steady progress by Your Committee in its efforts to secure a fair deal with GMR, and (d) a seismic shift concerning the use of smart speakers and the pace at which the connected car is impacting consumption of music on the road. Here are just a few things that we are working on as we dive into the New Year:

GMR: We’ve spent the past year in discussions with GMR, analyzing its repertory and focusing on reaching common ground regarding the amount of GMR music that your stations actually consume. We now expect to shift our focus to the economic terms of a deal that reflects a licensee base which uses very few (and in some cases, even none) of the works administered by GMR. Our goal is to bring you a negotiated license for consideration in the first half of this year.

“Fractional” Licensing: Late last year, BMI secured a victory in court via a ruling by the 2nd Circuit in New York, which determined that the licensing of “fractional” interests in a musical work by BMI fall outside the scope of the longstanding consent decree that BMI must operate under. What does this mean for you? The ruling is bad news, but it’s too early to tell just how bad the impact will be. Your Committee is monitoring developments on all fronts: judicial (there may be an appeal or motion for the court to reconsider this ruling); legislative (one critical component of any fractional licensing regime will be more transparency as to which entity administers each fraction of a work – we are supporting a bill introduced in Congress to establish a better database for this information); and at the negotiating table (this ruling will likely embolden GMR and the other PROs in their talks with us – we will remain vigilant in seeking rates that do not penalize licensees for use of a work simply because the copyright in that work may be administered as fractional pieces in a new way).

There are many other areas we are focusing on as well: preparations for the “Web V” streaming battle that looms in 2019; resumption of our long-stalled license discussions with BMI for the period from 2014 through the end of this year; and gearing up for a new ASCAP license, which will be effective as of January 2019.

As I officially step into this new role, I am grateful for the wisdom, guidance and mentoring that I’ve received from Russ Hauth and Harv Hendrickson over these past few years. I am more thankful than ever for the work you all do and for your continued support! Have a blessed 2018!

Sincerely,

Scott R. Hunter
Executive Director

4880 Santa Rosa Road, Camarillo, CA 93012
(805) 482-7290 • www.nrbmlc.com

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