Mike O’Neill Addresses BMI’s Songwriters, Composers and Publishers

BMI to Take Legal Action Against Department of Justice

Posted in News on August 4, 2016

Dear BMI members,

Today BMI announced a joint effort with ASCAP to fight the Department of Justice’s recent interpretation of our consent decrees: BMI through litigation and ASCAP through legislation.

As you know, the DOJ recently interpreted our consent decrees to require 100% licensing, something that BMI and ASCAP believe will cause unnecessary chaos in the marketplace and place unfair financial and creative burdens on the more than one million songwriters, composers and publishers we collectively represent.

To that end, BMI is taking legal action and has filed a pre-motion letter with Federal Judge Louis Stanton informing him of our proposal to challenge 100% licensing in Federal Court. Concurrently, ASCAP announced that it will take the lead for the two PROs in pursuing a legislative solution to preserve the long-standing practice of fractional licensing. BMI will support and work closely with ASCAP in this effort.

It’s important to note that even the DOJ, in its public statement, acknowledged the value of the PRO system. We believe the impact of the DOJ’s interpretation could actually increase BMI’s market power and make it attractive for music users to license with BMI rather than other, smaller organizations representing interests in the same works. Ironically, this is exactly the type of scenario our consent decree was designed to prevent. So, it may seem counterintuitive that BMI would fight against this idea.

We’re fighting because when we first asked the DOJ to update our consent decree, it was never with the goal to increase our power. Rather, it was to protect music creators and allow us to adjust to the ever-changing marketplace. We’re taking these steps because we believe the DOJ’s interpretation will actually harm competition, hurt creativity, lower license fees and increase costs. All resulting in less flexibility, control and money for songwriters and composers.

Everyone at BMI spent a great deal of time evaluating our options, always keeping the best interests of our music creators, publishers and licensees in mind. We acknowledge that challenging the DOJ in court is a bold decision, but we firmly believe it is a necessary step that will benefit the industry as a whole.

BMI is stronger than ever, and your affiliation with us is our number one priority. We have fought to protect your rights and maximize the value of your music for 76 years, and we will continue that role well into the future.

You can click here to read BMI’s pre-motion letter to Judge Stanton.

I will continue to keep you updated as developments occur.

Mike O’Neill
President & CEO


BMI & ASCAP Join Forces to Fight the Department of Justice’s Interpretation of Their Consent Decrees (August 4, 2016)