CCIA Files Comments on ASCAP, BMI Consent Decrees

BY Heather Greenfield
August 6, 2014

Washington – As the Department of Justice Antitrust Division reviews the consent decrees governing music licensing, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed comments Wednesday. CCIA asked DOJ to uphold, update and expand the consent decrees covering the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI).

CCIA weighed in on issues from non-discrimination principles to whether ASCAP or BMI should be able to license their performance rights to some music users but not others, to how to modernize the consent decrees in the digital age. CCIA’s comments focus principally on the need for the Department of Justice to compel performance rights organizations (PROs) to provide timely, online access to information regarding the contents of their repertories.  “A buyer should know what is being bought,” the comments said.

CCIA acknowledged that although PROs can help reduce licensing transaction costs, the fact that ASCAP and BMI control 90 percent of American compositions means it’s important to address competition issues. CCIA noted that PROs may have certain non-discrimination obligations, but that these “are not sufficiently robust to impose meaningful obligations, including non-discrimination among different types of users who are engaged in similar uses.”

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