@ASCAP CEO Beth Matthews Responds to the 100% Licensing Proposal from the US Department of Justice

Beth Matthews Testifying Before Congress

Yesterday, ASCAP and BMI met jointly with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division to hear the government’s proposal regarding our respective consent decrees, which have been under formal review for nearly three years.

As several news reports have mentioned, the DOJ’s current proposal would require that ASCAP and BMI license all songs in our respective repertories on a 100% basis, ending the long-standing industry practice of fractional share licensing.

Unfortunately, the DOJ indicated that because of the complexities of the transition to this 100% licensing requirement, it will not consider the updates we requested to our consent decrees at this time but, instead, may revisit those issues after a transition period.

We strongly disagree with this view and we are disappointed that the DOJ has chosen to focus on this issue, which was not raised by any of the parties to the decrees. Rather than fostering more competition and innovation in the modern music marketplace, we believe that this approach will only create confusion, chaos and instability, harming both music creators and users. Even more troubling is the fact that the government chose this path, despite the fact that more than 15,000 songwriters and composers, as well as the US Copyright Office, members of Congress and others in the industry, registered their strong opposition to 100% licensing with the DOJ.

ASCAP, BMI and key industry stakeholders each have a team of legal experts evaluating this proposal, and we are considering all options, including legislative and legal remedies.

ASCAP takes great pride in being the only PRO owned and run by its music creator members, and we will proceed in a way that is best for our members – the songwriters, composers and publishers who are the foundation of the music industry – and in a way that moves the industry forward.

Elizabeth Matthews