David Oxenford - Color

David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP

Last week, the Radio Music License Committee issued a press release that states that Global Music Rights (“GMR”), the new performing rights organization that collects royalties for the public performance of songs written by a number of popular songwriters (including Bruce Springsteen, members of the Eagles, Pharrell Williams and others) has agreed to extend their interim license for the performance of their music by commercial radio stations until March 31, 2020. The notice says that GMR will be contacting stations that signed their previous extension (through September 30, 2019) to extend the interim license on the same terms now in place. If you don’t hear from GMR by September 15, the RMLC suggests that you reach out to GMR directly (do not contact RMLC as they cannot help) to inquire about this extension.

As we have written before (see our articles here and here), GMR and the RMLC are in litigation over whether or not the rates set by GMR should be subject to some sort of antitrust review, as are the rates set by ASCAP, BMI and even SESAC (see our article here on the SESAC rates). Earlier this year, the lawsuits were consolidated in a court in California, where litigation is ongoing (see our article here about the transfer). In the interim, there is no license to play the GMR music outside the Interim license offered to all commercial stations, or individually negotiated licenses with the company. Commercial stations that play GMR music should either have a license or should discuss carefully with counsel their potential options and liabilities if they continue to play GMR music. Do not ignore the potential liability as, under copyright law, there are substantial “statutory damages” of up to $150,000 per song for infringement. Noncommercial stations are not covered by this license being offered by GMR to RMLC members, as public performance royalties for noncommercial broadcasting are set by the Copyright Royalty Board (see our article here for more details on the royalties for noncommercial stations). Those stations should also discuss their obligations for royalties under the CRB decision with their counsel.

David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).

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