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Department Of Justice chief says consent decree review not complete

By | Published on Tuesday 19 July 2016

US Department Of Justice

The boss of the US Department Of Justice has said that her department’s review of the consent decrees that regulate collecting societies BMI and ASCAP is not actually complete, and a final decision is yet to be reached. This despite reps from both the societies and the music publishing community having been told that the government agency will reject the music industry’s various requests for reform of the consent decrees, and instead force unpopular 100% licensing onto the two societies.

According to Billboard, when asked about the review during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington last week, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said: “My understanding is that the review is not complete … and the decision hasn’t been made and the discussion is still ongoing”. Lynch added that it will likely be a few more months before the review is completed.

That said, most music publishers now expect the DoJ’s final written conclusion of the consent decree review to recommend no changes, except the clarification on 100% licensing. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be further opportunities for the collecting societies and publishers to try and oppose this conclusion, not least because the DoJ’s findings will have to go before a judge in the rate courts that enforce the consent decrees.

This was a point made by the boss of BMI, Mike O’Neill, last week, when he wrote on the society’s website: “First and foremost, let me stress that the DOJ’s position is simply that – its position. It’s not a ruling or a decision. It is how the DOJ interprets BMI’s consent decree. And as you know, BMI disagrees strongly with that interpretation. While we hope to reach a mutually agreeable resolution with the DOJ, we have a number of scenarios in front of us that we are evaluating carefully”.