Wineries Welcome Department of Justice Ruling on Music Licensing

8.4.2016

Washington — Today the Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that it has concluded its two year consent decree review, and that it will refrain from altering the existing decrees regulating Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), as well as other elements of the music industry. The consent decree has regulated BMI and ASCAP since 1941 in response to anti-competitive behavior. Importantly, the DoJ struck down the Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) requests for “fractionalized licensing.”

This is an important decision for wineries who purchase a “blanket license” from PROs in order to play music at their venue. A blanket license allows a venue to play a PROs entire repertory. Had the DoJ agreed to fractionalized licensing, a winery would have had to pay every PRO that represents a songwriter for a song with multiple writers: for example, if a song has four writers, each with a different PRO, then all four PRO could claim royalties for that single song.

Wineries already face difficult choices when offering live music at their venue, often forcing the winery to cancel their programs. WineAmerica believes that fractionalized licensing would have eliminated buyer’s choice in the marketplace, encourage anti-competitive behavior, and ultimately raise the cost of performing music.

WineAmerica will continue to work to bring transparency to the licensing process. We believe that small business should have the tools to make sound business decisions based on their unique needs.

WineAmerica applauds the Department of Justice in its decision, meanwhile we will continue our lobbying efforts to alleviate undue burdens put upon wineries by PROs.

For more information, contact, Tara Good, Director of Operations at tgood@wineamerica.org, 202-223-5175.

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WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations.  As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.


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