Global Music Rights and RMLC antitrust dispute to go to trial following court rulings

The Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) and performing rights society Global Music Rights (GMR) are headed to court after a federal judge in California refused motions to dismiss the two parties’ antitrust suits against each other.

Following last week’s respective rulings, the RMLC said that GMR, founded by Irving Azoff (pictured) and which licenses the performances of songs written by a small roster of songwriters, such as Drake, Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, the Eagles, and Smokey Robinson, “orchestrated an exodus by artists from other PROs specifically in order to raise the price of pre-existing music licenses”.

The RMLC represents more than 10,000 commercial radio stations in the US.

In GMR’s statement, the PRO argued that “Thursday’s ruling clears the way for GMR to challenge the cartel power which the RMLC has exerted over songwriters for decades.

According to GMR’s original complaint, filed in 2016, RMLC is a US radio “cartel”, which controls more than 90% of radio industry revenue, while reaching more than 245 million listeners weekly.

Attorney Daniel Petrocelli, who represents GMR, said in 2016 that station owners conspired to exercise their “collective muscle” and keep their music costs low rather than compete with one another for content.

Judge Terry Hatter, Jr. of the Central District of California also denied the RMLC’s right to seek monetary damages from GMR.

“Litigation is no one’s first choice. But we are gratified that the court denied every single argument GMR made on the merits of its case, and left RMLC with a clear path to reaching a final verdict in our favor.”

Bill Velez, RMLC

RMLC’s Executive Director Bill Velez said in statement: “We were pleased but not surprised by the court’s important ruling. GMR is worse than the other PROs.

“Its only purpose is to charge more for what could previously be bought for less. The court rightly recognized that there is no excuse for that conduct under the antitrust laws.”

“Litigation is no one’s first choice. But we are gratified that the court denied every single argument GMR made on the merits of its case, and left RMLC with a clear path to reaching a final verdict in our favor.”

“We look forward to having our day in court with the RMLC cartel to stand up for songwriters.”

Irving Azoff, GMR

“The court’s ruling is a powerful reminder that no one is above the law,” said Global Music Rights’ counsel Daniel Petrocelli.

“Here, RMLC argued that it does not actually seek restitution or disgorgement of profits, but rather a method to help it obtain monetary relief, if applicable. That is a distinction without a difference,” Judge Hatter wrote.

“We look forward to having our day in court with the RMLC cartel to stand up for songwriters,” said GMR Founder Irving Azoff.

“It’s well past due for them to finally be treated fairly by broadcast radio.”

In December 2019, the US Department of Justice sided with GMR in its lawsuit against the RMLC.

Last month, US-based performance rights organization BMI reached an agreement in principle to settle its rate dispute over radio royalties with the RMLC.Music Business Worldwide

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