With ASCAP and BMI still under unaltered consent decrees and SESAC agreeing to rate-setting arbitration in a 2015 settlement, the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) is going for the grand slam with an antitrust lawsuit against boutique performance rights organization Global Music Rights.
According to an announcement from the RMLC, the suit against the organization begun by Irving Azoff and headed by Randy Grimmett was filed in the U.S. Eastern District of Pennsylvania Court by the law firm of Watham & Watkins. RMLC charges that Global Music Rights has created an artificial monopoly over works in its repertoire. In order to avoid monopoly pricing, the complaint seeks injunctive relief for Global Music Rights to submit to a judicial rate-setting procedure like the one imposed by the consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI.
Last year, the RLMC settled a similar lawsuit with SESAC, getting most of what it asked for, including an arbitration-like process that will cover licensing over 22 years. The Global Music Rights lawsuit was filed in the same court. In addition to a rate-setting process, the RLMC preliminary injunction also seeks to prevent Global Music Rights from charging radio stations monopoly prices while the litigation is pending.
According to the announcement, "The radio industry has faced a serious challenge in terms of restoring reasonable license fee levels during difficult economic times and in the face of proliferating music licensing agencies."
In a statement, RMLC chairman Ed Christian added, "This legal process will undoubtedly prove to be taxing in terms of the amount of labor and expense involved. Yet, we feel that Global Music Rights'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."
Global Music Rights wasn't immediately available for comment.