9/19/16 update: Federal Judge Louis Stanton issued an order rejecting the US Department of Justice’s interpretation of the BMI consent decree, which is a huge victory for songwriters. Read more about the details of the ruling on billboard.com.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently issued a massive blow to all songwriters and music publishers that will have repercussions both in the U.S. and abroad, and threatens the ability of creators to earn a living from their music as well as creativity itself.
Since 1941, performing rights organizations (PROs) ASCAP and BMI, which track and collect performance royalties on behalf of songwriters and music publishers, have been subject to consent decrees issued by the DOJ. These consent decrees are agreements that allow the government to regulate ASCAP and BMI’s license fees and how they operate in order to prevent monopolization and encourage competition. (The two other PROs, SESAC and GMR, are both independent, privately owned companies that operate on a for-profit basis and are not subject to consent decrees.)