Music Licensing Under Lawmakers’ Microscope

Lobbying intensifies in advance of hearing
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In advance of a congressional hearing on music licensing tomorrow, both sides are pressing their case with lawmakers.

A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hold a hearing Tuesday on the Department of Justice review of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees.

The two music associations want the consent decrees to be relaxed, calling them outdated. The music licensing system needs to more fairly compensate songwriters for their work, according to ASCAP and BMI.

NAB, CEA, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, the Digital Media Association and the Internet Association oppose relaxation. The associations represent music distributors, electronics manufacturers, Internet companies, radio and TV broadcasters and music users. Seven state broadcast associations sent letters expressing similar sentiments.

The associations tell lawmakers in a letter the consent decrees were established because of evidence of anticompetitive behaviors and to keep “significantly concentrated market powers in check.”

ASCAP states that its CEO will testify that the current music licensing system is antiquated and the process needs to be simplified and reflective of how people listen to music now.

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