Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights sued by US commercial radio body

A body which represents approximately 10,000 commercial radio stations in the US, the RMLC, has filed an antitrust complaint against Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights (GMR) – claiming anti-competitive behavior.

GMR isn’t messing about in reaction: MBW understands that GMR has drafted in renowned US lawyer Daniel Petrocelli to represent it in reaction.

In a press release, the RMLC (Radio Music Licensing Committee) said that, if left unchecked, GMR would be able “to charge the U.S. commercial radio industry monopoly prices to publicly perform musical works in the GMR repertory”.

What that really amounts to is that fact that GMR declines to submit its copyrights to regulated US royalty rate proceedings – meaning broadcasters have to pay its writers a privately agreed figure, or fail to obtain clearance to play their music.

This is a key part of GMR’s business – based on a mantra of earning songwriters the money they deserve vs. more traditional options in the US.

The approach has lured over the likes of Pharrell Williams and Ryan Tedder from the likes of ASCAP and BMI since it launched in 2013.

“we feel that GMR’s exorbitant fee demands are out of balance with their competitors.”

Ed Christian, RMLC

ASCAP and BMI are both not-for-profit performance rights organizations.

GMR’s fellow for-profit PRO, SESAC, settled with the RMLC in summer 2015 following similar litigation to that just launched against GMR.

The RMLC claims that GMR has “created a bottleneck to, and artificial monopoly over, the works in its repertory”.

RMLC seeks injunctive relief, requiring, among other things, that GMR submit to a judicial rate-making procedure comparable to what the consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI impose.

Along with the complaint, the RMLC has also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent GMR from charging radio stations monopoly prices for a GMR license while the litigation is pending.

RMLC Chairman, Ed Christian, commented that “resorting to litigation is never a first option for the RMLC”.

He added: This legal process will undoubtedly prove to be taxing in terms of the amount of labor and expense involved. Yet, we feel that GMR’s exorbitant fee demands are out of balance with their competitors and would do irreparable harm to our industry and this has left us with no other alternative.”

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by the law firm of Latham & Watkins, on behalf of the RMLC as the sole plaintiff in the action.Music Business Worldwide

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