BMI prevailed over Pandora in a rate court ruling stating that the Internet radio service’s blanket license does not include compositions controlled by publishers that have withdrawn digital rights from BMI. In other words, unless Pandora removes songs from massive publishers including UMPG, BMG and Kobalt or negotiates direct deals by January 1, it will be in copyright violation.
This BMI/Pandora ruling has the exact opposite consequences of September’s ASCAP/Pandora ruling. The DOJ’s Ethan Glass had said prior to the BMI rate court’s conclusion that if the two rulings applied different sets of rules to each PRO, the competitive imbalance would be of concern to the DOJ. This week’s rate court ruling is surely a big win for publishers and songwriters, but the contradictory rulings have opened the door to a potentially greater victory - a plausible amendment to ASCAP and BMI’s consent decrees, which impede their ability to negotiate fair market rates.
The U.S. Copyright Office announced it is convening a number of leadership roundtables with music creators. As Congress prepares for its most thorough review of copyright law in decades, U.S. Copyright Office Director Maria Pallante, who has the responsibility to advise Congress, will meet with creators, “the first beneficiaries of the copyright system”. The first roundtable will be held in New York on January 14 and according to Pallante, “music issues are front and center.”