DOJ Investigates Major Music Publishing Companies
Pandora Targeted By Pubs?
July 15, 2014 at 4:44 AM (PT)
ASCAP, BMI, SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING and UNIVERSAL MUSIC PUBLISHING GROUP have all received CIDs (Civil Investigative Demand For Documents) from THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL.
The DOJ is seeking materials related to a wide range of licensing issues, possible pricing coordination among music publishing companies, including the two publishers' efforts to withdraw their rights from ASCAP and BMI's licensing agreements with PANDORA MEDIA INC.
Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge DENISE COTE, in a ruling on the matter, wrote on page 95 in her rate-setting decision that "SONY and UNIVERSAL had coordinated with ASCAP to drive PANDORA's licensing rates higher by withdrawing their digital rights from ASCAP and striking their own, direct deals with PANDORA in 2012 at higher rates, thereby creating a higher 'benchmark' for ASCAP's license."
In a statement, ASCAP said: "We welcome the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE's investigation into the music licensing marketplace, and we are cooperating fully with DOJ staff to make sure they have the information they need."
Meanwhile, THE TENNESSEAN reports that SONY/ATV CHAIRMAN & CEO MARTIN BANDIER wrote a letter to songwriters and publisher saying, that SONY/ATV "will explore withdrawing all of its licensing rights [from the two performing rights organizations] if federal regulators don't allow for the partial withdrawal of its digital rights."
Back on JUNE 5th, SONY/ATV and UNIVERSAL had already tried and failed to reclaim their digital catalog rights and were rejected by the special Federal Rate Court.
BANDIER also indicated that the consent decree review by the DOJ "is positive because it shows that the DOJ is taking seriously the concept of modifying the consent decreed. Hopefully, by the end of the year, we can have something positive, a modified consent decree, so we won't have to withdraw."