RMLC Submits Comments In Response To U.S. Department Of Justice Request
August 8, 2014 at 8:18 AM (PT)
The RADIO MUSIC LICENSE COMMITTEE (RMLC), together with the TELEVISION MUSIC LICENSE COMMITTEE, made a joint filing in response to the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (DOJ), Antitrust Division’s request for public comments as part of its review of ASCAP’s and BMI’s existing Consent Decrees. ASCAP and BMI have publicly contended that the Consent Decrees are too restrictive and stale, particularly as to digital licensing transactions.
“Left to their own devices, the performing right organizations (PROs) or, for that matter, any entity that is permitted to aggregate the works of thousands of otherwise competing rightsholders for the purpose of an industry-wide license offering, will simply not refrain from taking advantage of the market power created through that collective licensing that inevitably leads to supra-competitive rates,” said RMLC Chairman and SAGA COMMUNICATIONS Pres./CEO ED CHRISTIAN. “This is particularly true when these licensing agencies have at their disposal the ‘club’ of copyright infringement. All of the parties know that the Consent Decrees were put in place so as to limit the ability of the PROs to take advantage of this market power. Should there be any doubt as to the anticompetitive potential of collective licensing, just look at the actions of SESAC.”
The RMLC’s submission to the DOJ emphasizes that:
- The Consent Decrees are absolutely necessary to keep the market power of ASCAP and BMI in check. The activities of the PROs that give rise to their market power -- collective licensing -- have not changed in any way and the actions of SESAC represent clear evidence of anti-competitive behavior that appears to be inevitable in the absence of the protections of the Consent Decrees.
- The changes to the Consent Decrees that ASCAP and BMI are seeking are clearly intended to enhance their ability to take advantage of their market power and that of the major publishers they represent.
- Complete transparency with respect to the repertory data maintained by the PROs will almost certainly serve to bring about a more efficient and competitive marketplace.