May 01, 2018 Decisions in Brief

Decisions in Brief

By John C. Gatz

©2018. Published in Landslide, Vol. 10, No. 5, May/June 2018, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.


BMI License May Include Fractional Rights

United States v. Broadcast Music, Inc., 125 U.S.P.Q.2d 1186 (2d Cir. 2017). BMI is a performance rights organization that holds the performance rights to millions of musical works and acts as the agent for songwriters and publishers to set rates, issue licenses, and collect licensing fees from entities seeking to perform the musical works. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) challenged the BMI blanket license as an illegal restraint of trade, and BMI and the DOJ entered into a consent decree in 1966 that was amended in 1994. The DOJ alleged that BMI violated the consent decree by including works in the blanket license where BMI only had a fractional interest in the work. BMI argued that the consent decree did not prohibit fractional licensing or require only full-work licensing. The district court agreed with BMI and the DOJ appealed.

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