BMI’s primary goal is to ensure that our writers, composers and publishers are properly compensated for the public use of their music. This objective requires a multifaceted approach that involves educating about public policy and partnerships.
Most of the current consent decree between BMI and the United States government, which governs BMI’s relationships with songwriters, composers, publishers and the businesses that use their music, was adopted in the mid-1960s – before the Internet, satellite radio and the growth of cable and other modern content delivery platforms. As a result, the rules have not kept pace with the changes in technology, the media industry and the music business over the past 50 years. BMI seeks to modernize its consent decree to better assure that songwriters, composers and publishers can realize fair market value for their work, to make music licensing more efficient for music users and music creators and owners alike, and to streamline the rate-setting process.
The Department of Justice published notices in The Wall Street Journal on June 4-6, 2014, and in Billboard’s June 14, 2014, issue to solicit comments from the public regarding whether the BMI and ASCAP consent decrees are serving their pro-competitive purposes. The Department of Justice will accept public comments through August 6, 2014.
The Department of Justice has provided further details on the issues it has identified for comment in a notice on its website.
The The Songwriter Equity Act of 2014 (SEA) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) on February 25, 2014, and to date has 22 co-sponsors (H.R. 4079). A companion version (S. 2321) was introduced in the Senate by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on May 12, 2014, and to date has three co-sponsors. The SEA seeks to accomplish two goals:
The U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet has engaged in a comprehensive review of copyright law since late 2012.
The Subcommittee has turned its focus to music licensing, with a hearing that took place on June 10, 2014, and another scheduled for June 25, 2014. BMI’s Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Neill appeared before the Subcommittee on June 10, 2014, and offered testimony proposing changes intended to modernize BMI’s consent decree and allow BMI’s affiliated songwriters, composers and publishers to compete in the current competitive landscape.
On May 23, 2014, approximately 85 organizations and individuals, including BMI, filed submissions with the U.S. Copyright Office, in response to the Office’s Notice of Inquiry for its Music Licensing Study. The Notice posed 24 questions designed to “evaluate the effectiveness of existing methods of licensing music,” including questions relating to (a) music licensing – both compulsory licensing and by performing rights organizations; (b) sound recordings; and (c) the current consent decrees governing performing rights organizations, specifically BMI and ASCAP.
Field hearings have been or will be held on the following dates and locations this summer: June 4-5, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn.; June 16-17, 2014, in Los Angeles, Calif.; and June 23-24, 2014, in New York, NY.
The Office has not announced yet if there will be a period for reply comments, or whether it will make any recommendations based on its review of the submissions.
Foremost, BMI strives to educate the public about the need for copyright protection so that the creative ecosystem between art and commerce can continue. In doing this, BMI takes an active role in the public policy conversation on the development of intellectual property rights in the digital age, and partners with leading academic institutions by sending BMI experts as speakers on leading industry panels and seminars. As a company serving music users ranging from the corner bar or restaurant to the largest of broadcast and digital media entities, BMI’s business activities touch on a number of issues of great interest to federal and state legislators. BMI works closely with members of Congress as they oversee copyright law and draft future legislation that will affect our affiliates. BMI also actively participates in international forums that seek to redefine global rights management mechanisms for the digital age.
BMI is a member of CISAC, the leading worldwide network of authors’ societies, to promote the interests of creators and provide the highest business standards that will protect their rights globally.
BMI is also a proud member of the Copyright Alliance and joined the call to increase support for the protection of intellectual property.
In collaboration with ASCAP and SOCAN, BMI has created MusicMark. Once complete, publishers will be able to submit a single registration file simultaneously to all three performing rights organizations (PROs), even if the work was co-written by members of different societies. The system will also provide common, authoritative picture of the musical works represented by the participating collecting societies.
BMI carefully monitors legislative activity to serve as a voice for our songwriters, composers, and music publishers, wherever their interests may be implicated, to preserve the value of music.