BMI: 'Publishers should be able to withdraw digital rights'

Tom Pakinkis

BMI wants to give its members the ability to withdraw their digital rights as part of an effort to modernise the consent decree that binds its publishers.

The proposal comes in an outline of a submission that BMI will file to the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice today.

The DOJ has requested public comments as part of its review of BMI’s consent decree, which BMI has conceded “no longer reflects the current needs of songwriters, publishers and music users in today’s digital landscape”.

“The time has come to modernise the BMI consent decree. We appreciate the US Department of Justice’s solicitation of public comments as part of the modernisation process,” said Michael O’Neill, BMI president and CEO.

“Our goal is to better serve our affiliates and music users, and the DOJ’s request facilitates an industry-wide open dialogue needed for critical reforms.”

BMI’s submission outlines the following three updates to its consent decree that it feels would benefit songwriters, publishers and businesses that use music.

Digital Rights Withdrawal: Allow publishers to give BMI the right to license works for certain uses, while permitting publishers to retain the exclusive right to license works for other defined, digital uses.  This will enable BMI to offer easy, efficient access to our wide-ranging repertoire for many traditional music uses, while allowing publishers and music users the opportunity to negotiate their own free-market digital deals.

Bundling Rights: Clarify the decree to allow BMI to license not just the public performing right, but any rights relating to the musical work that a music user needs to bring its product or service to the public.  This will create a “one-stop” licensing source to meet the needs and match the pace of the digital marketplace.

Arbitration:  Move the rate-setting forum from federal court to a binding arbitration model.  Music users will be assured of a rate-setting mechanism to resolve disputes, but one that’s quicker and less expensive for all parties. 

“Our proposed modifications to the decree will benefit not only our affiliates but the rights marketplace in general,” said Stuart Rosen, BMI senior vice president and general counsel. “While we feel that there are additional important modifications necessary to modernize the decree, the proposals in today’s filing are the most urgent and, we believe, need to be addressed on a faster timetable.”


Tags: Publishing, BMI

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