ASCAP Settles Justice Dep. Probe Of Exclusive Licensing Deals
May 12, 2016 at 3:12 PM (PT)
ASCAP, the AMERICAN SOCIETY OF COMPOSERS, AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS, has agreed to pay $1.75 million to settle a JUSTICE DEPARTMENT probe that found that some of the group’s licensing deals had violated its longstanding regulatory rules, the NY TIMES reports. The settlement is subject to approval from the federal judge who oversees ASCAP, DENISE L. COTE of U.S DISTRICT COURT in MANHATTAN.
The DOJ found that ASCAP had violated terms of its 75-year-old consent decree by entering into exclusive deals in “approximately 150 contracts” with composers and publishers, starting in 2008. “By blocking members’ ability to license their songs themselves, ASCAP undermined a critical protection of competition contained in the consent decree,” DOJ antitrust division principal deputy assistant attorney general RENATA B. HESSE said in a statement.
In its settlement, ASCAP did not admit wrongdoing but said it would not make any more exclusive deals. It also agreed that the publisher members on its board — which is split evenly between publishers and composers — would not be involved in licensing talks. Two years ago, Judge COTE found that there was “troubling coordination” between the ASCAP and its most powerful publishers during negotiations with PANDORA over licensing rates.