By: Mike Montgomery
After more than two years of review, countless public comments and some professional mudslinging, the Department of Justice has decided that the best way to preserve competition and fairness in the music marketplace is to reject requests to inject anticompetitive behavior into music licensing consent decrees.
Preserving competition in music licensing will go a long way toward ensuring the continued growth of the music industry.
You wouldn’t know this was a promising development judging by the reaction of some within the industry. An article in Billboard breaking the news of the Justice Department’s decision quotes an unnamed music publishing executive mischaracterizing the decision, “This decision will create a clusterf—k of epic proportions for the U.S. music publishing industry.”
On the contrary, Justice’s action appears to clarify what the current consent decrees require. This is, in fact, a fantastic outcome for consumers and small businesses as well as broadcast and digital entities, because all DOJ did was reaffirm the existing rules that so-called “fractional licensing” isn’t lawful.
Nothing will change save for the hangover publishers and performance rights organizations will experience as they come to the harsh realization that the process they kick-started two years ago to further enrich themselves and freely wield and abuse their market power backfired. And for all the right reasons: the common-sense antitrust protections provided under these consent decrees are as modern and necessary today as they ever were.