The Department of Justice has finished its nearly two-year review of the federal consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI.
The DOJ has determined no changes are needed, however it is going to apply an additional rule to the performing rights organizations.
The consent decrees have been in place since 1941 to curb the PROs monopoly power since they control licensing of some 90% of composed music; ASCAP and BMI had sought the right to withdraw digital licensing from the blanket licenses they offer.
Publishers like Sony/ATV, Universal Music Publishing Group and BMG had sought the change, reported Billboard.
But more disturbing to the music PROs is the DOJ is moving ahead with its interpretation that ASCAP and BMI must use 100% licensing; that means any rightsholder for songs that have multiple writers, who may be repped by different performing rights organizations, can license the entire song to a user, as long as that user accounts to and pays the other songwriters, according to Billboard.
Music publishers fear the change will lead to lower rates and rate-shopping. Music publishers told the publication the change would upend the business and be a “nightmare.”
ASCP and BMI said in a statement they’re studying the decision.