2017 will bring with it a number of court cases that will affect music publishers, songwriters, and copyright as a whole. First, the Radio Music Licensing Commission and performing rights organization Global Music Rights are suing each other over licensing fees to be paid to publishers and songwriters for radio play. Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke are appealing the verdict that they infringed on Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up” in their song, “Blurred Lines,” a decision which many in the music industry have spoken out against as it discourages creativity. And ASCAP and BMI are battling the US Department of Justice over its ruling that the PROs are required to abide by 100% licensing.
The music industry pays tribute to artist George Michael who passed away on Christmas Day. The British singer/songwriter sold approximately 100 million albums in his career with Wham! and as a solo artist, including Faith (1987) and Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1 (1990), mostly via CBS/Sony labels. Jon Platt, CEO & Chairman of Michael’s long-term publisher, Warner/Chappell, called Michael “the epitome of the consummate pop star...who enthralled the world, always keeping us guessing where his music would take us next.”
BMI has filed an action in Federal Rate Court to set interim fees for radio stations during negotiations with the Radio Music License Committee. The RMLC has proposed an interim rate well below that of its previous deal with BMI based on what BMI calls “incomplete and incorrect information regarding BMI’s radio performances” and that “significantly undervalues the work of BMI’s songwriters.” BMI is asking the Court to maintain its most recent rate while new terms for a five-year deal beginning this year are discussed.