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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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