Public Workshop on Competition in Licensing Music Public Performance Rights

Competition in Licensing Music Public Performance Rights

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Workshop Information

The Department of Justice (DOJ) held a virtual public workshop on July 28 and 29, 2020, to discuss competition in the licensing of public performance rights in the music industry. The workshop provided a further venue for industry stakeholders to weigh in on the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees and their implications for antitrust law enforcement and policy.

A series of panels discussed competition issues relating to the various types of public performance licenses offered in the marketplace, competition between performing rights organizations (PROs), such as ASCAP, BMI, and GMR, and the licensing of music to end-users. Panelists discussed whether or not certain terms of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees should be modified, and whether the decrees were inhibiting innovative business models that may hurt consumers or artists. These panels included executives, PROs, songwriters, music publishers, music licensees, legal and economic experts, and other industry stakeholders.

July 10, 2020

Press Release: Department of Justice Antitrust Division to Host Workshop on Competition in the Licensing of Public Performance Rights in the Music Industry

July 24, 2020

Press Release: Antitrust Division Announces Agenda for Workshop on Competition in the Licensing of Public Performance Rights in the Music Industry

Date and Virtual Attendance

July 28, 2020
12:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

July 29, 2020
12:30 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

The workshop was free and open to the public and made available as a webcast.

Workshop Agenda

A recording and transcript of the workshop will be posted to this page when they are available.


July 28, 2020

12:30 p.m.

Opening Remarks: “Thank You for the Music”

Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, U.S. Department of Justice

12:40 p.m.

Songwriter Keynote

LeAnn Rimes

12:55 p.m.

Session 1: Remarks from Stakeholders on the Consent Decrees

David Israelite, President and CEO, National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA)

Michelle Lewis, Executive Director, Songwriters of North America (SONA)

Elizabeth Matthews, CEO, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP)

Michael O’Neill, President and CEO, Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI)

The Honorable Gordon Smith, President and CEO, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)

DOJ Moderator: Karina Lubell, Assistant Chief, Competition Policy and Advocacy Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice

1:55 p.m.

Session 2: Public Performance Licensing Alternatives

Panelists discussed the use and viability of alternatives to blanket licenses, including direct, adjustable-fee, per-program, and per-segment licenses under the Decrees. They also addressed the use and viability of source and through-to-the-audience licenses and whether those types of licenses should be limited or expanded. Finally, the panel discussed whether these alternatives presented a “genuine choice” to music users or whether the genuine choice provision of the Decrees should be modified.

Panelists

Jackie Brenneman, General Counsel, National Association of Theatre Owners

Ted Cohen, Managing Partner, TAG Strategic

David Kokakis, Chief Counsel, Universal Music Publishing Group

Janet McHugh, Executive Director, TV Music License Committee

Mike Steinberg, Executive Vice President of Creative and Licensing, BMI

DOJ Moderator: Yvette Tarlov, Assistant Chief, Media, Entertainment, and Professional Services Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice

3:15 p.m.

Songwriter Keynote

Pharrell Williams

3:30 p.m.

Session 3: Competition Between PROs for Songwriters and Publishers

The third session discussed competition between the PROs for artists. Panelists discussed the membership provisions of the ASCAP/BMI decrees, including provisions relating to eligibility to join a PRO, resignations, the maximum terms of membership agreements and music licenses, the use and transparency of licenses-in-effect, and member audit rights.

Panelists

Danielle Aguirre, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, NMPA

Jordan Bromley, Board Member, Music Artists Coalition

Bart Herbison, Executive Director, Nashville Songwriters Association International

Clara Kim, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Business and Legal Affairs, ASCAP

Jack Kugell, Board Member, SONA

DOJ Moderator: Owen Kendler, Chief, Media, Entertainment, and Professional Services Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice

July 29, 2020

12:30 p.m.

Opening Remarks

Owen Kendler, Chief, Media, Entertainment, and Professional Services Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice

12:35 p.m.

Songwriter Keynote

Jon Bon Jovi

12:50 p.m.

Session 4: Licensing Music to Users

The fourth session discussed the licensing of music to end-users. Panelists discussed potential modifications to the Decrees including the “similarly situated” and interim fee provisions of the Decrees. The panel also addressed if there was a need for more robust disclosure of ASCAP’s and BMI’s repertoires to licensees and potential impediments to such disclosure. Finally, the panel considered whether the Decrees were effective or ineffective, created efficiencies or inefficiencies, or inhibited innovative business models.

Panelists

John Bodnovich, Executive Director, American Beverage Licensees

Peter Brodsky, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Business Affairs, Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Rick Kaplan, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, NAB

Stuart Rosen, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, BMI

Tres Williams, Executive Vice President, Business Affairs, iHeartMedia, Inc.

DOJ Moderator: Ben Matelson, Trial Attorney, Media, Entertainment, and Professional Services Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice

2:15 p.m.

Session 5: Economists’ Views and Wrap-up

The last session provided a venue for economists to discuss the economic effects of the Decrees. Panelists debated ASCAP’s and BMI’s market power and any constraints on that market power. Additionally, the panel discussed whether the emergence of new PROs and new technologies, including streaming digital music and movie services, made the Decrees obsolete.

Panelists

Dr. Adam B. Jaffe, Brandeis University

Dr. Kevin M. Murphy, University of Chicago

DOJ Moderator: Dr. Jeffrey Wilder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Economic Analysis, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice

3:15 p.m.

Closing Remarks

Rene Augustine, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice

Public Comment Submissions

The Department of Justice previously invited comments from the public on these topics on June 5, 2019 and the comments can be found on the Antitrust Consent Decree Review Public Comments 2019 page. The Department invited nonduplicative comments for this workshop. The deadline for submitting those comments was July 22, 2020. The public comment period is now closed.

Public Comments - Competition in Licensing Music Public Performance Rights

Privacy and confidentiality: Written submissions and the identity of the submitter may be disclosed, reproduced, and distributed by publication and/or posting on the Department of Justice website, at the discretion of the Department of Justice. Information that is submitted in connection with this event cannot be maintained as confidential by the Department of Justice. Written submissions should not include any information that the submitting person seeks to preserve as private or confidential.

Updated August 10, 2020

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