Radio Fights Back On Royalty Rights
A pro-radio group has launched an assault against public-performance-right licensing agency Global Music Rights (GMR) for behavior that they claim could lead to monopolistic performance fees for commercial AMs and FMs across the U.S.
The Radio Music License Committee on Friday (11/18) announced the filing of an antitrust complaint against GMR, asserting that it is engaged in anti-competitive activities that could lead to unfettered fees for all works in the GMR repertory.
The RMLC traditionally represents a large number of commercial radio stations in the U.S. on music licensing matters involving ASCAP, BMI, and more recently, SESAC.
The filing of the GMR complaint comes following the summer 2015 settlement of similar litigation between RMLC and SESAC.
GMR, RMLC claims, is a privately-held and for-profit firm. “Unlike SESAC, ASCAP and BMI, which are all now subject to some form of rate regulation that acts to prevent monopoly pricing, GMR has thus far managed to avoid similar limits on its monopoly pricing,” RMLC said.
RMLC seeks injunctive relief, requiring, among other things, that GMR submit to a judicial rate-making procedure comparable to what the consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI impose.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by the law firm of Latham & Watkins, on behalf of the RMLC as the sole plaintiff in the action.
Along with the complaint, the RMLC has also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent GMR from charging radio stations “monopoly prices” for a GRM license while the litigation is pending.
RMLC’s Chairman is Saga Communications President/CEO Ed Christian. He commented, “Resorting to litigation is never a first option for the RMLC. This legal process will undoubtedly prove to be taxing in terms of the amount of labor and expense involved. Yet, we feel that GMR’s exorbitant fee demands are out of balance with their competitors and would do irreparable harm to our industry and this has left us with no other alternative.”
GMR was founded in 2013 by Irving Azoff and represents music rights holders for the licensing of their public performances.
Former Performing Rights Organization (PRO) executives Randy Grimmett and Sean O’Malley run operations.
GMR offers licensing, distribution and collection services for the exclusive rights granted to music creators and owners by copyright law.