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Chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee Weighs-in with DOJ on Music-Licensing

Tuesday, November 5, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: NRA Public Policy Office
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Chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee Weighs-in with DOJ on Music-Licensing

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) expressing his concern that DOJ could “severely disrupt the music marketplace” if it terminated or sunset the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees “without first establishing an alternative licensing structure.” Sen. Graham chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has direct oversight of DOJ, and he will have a major influence over any future legislation if Congress seeks to update the music-licensing rules.


The consent decrees provide certain protections for restaurants and other venues from being subjected to anti-competitive behavior from the two largest performing rights organizations (PROs) that license music; ASCAP and BMI. DOJ is currently reviewing the decrees, and the Association submitted comments to last August advocating for the preservation of the consent decrees while also urging Congress to enact reform. The music-licensing process is already overly complicated and costly, and Sen. Graham’s letter correctly notes how many small businesses are “concerned about major changes to the current licensing system,” which will become even more chaotic should DOJ terminate the consent decrees; Enabling ASCAP and BMI to arbitrarily increase license costs, charge one restaurant a higher rate than another, or even deny a license to a restaurant altogether.


For questions or to obtain a copy of the Association’s comments, please contact Michael O’Neill, National Restaurant Association, Director of Public Policy, Technology & Innovation.

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