ASCAP Comments on U.S. Department of Justice Appeal of BMI Rate Court 100% Licensing Decision to Second Circuit

November 11, 2016

November 11, 2016 – The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) issued the following statement from ASCAP CEO Beth Matthews in response to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filing its notice of appeal of the BMI Rate Court’s rejection of the government’s 100% licensing position: 

“The Second Circuit’s ruling in this case will affect the rights of more than a million American songwriters and composers, thousands of whom have expressed strong opposition to the DOJ’s position, and we are hopeful the Court will affirm Judge Stanton’s decision. ASCAP looks forward to resolution of this matter as we continue to advocate for modernizing the consent decrees for today’s world.”

On August 4, 2016, after nearly two years of review, the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division issued a closing statement, in which it declined to update the 75 year-old ASCAP and BMI consent decrees in ways that songwriters and other music creators had requested and instead called for ASCAP and BMI, the nation’s two largest performing rights organizations (PROs), to license all songs within their repertoire on a 100% or “full” works basis, which means they must license shares of a work controlled by their own member and affiliates as well shares controlled by members and affiliates of other PROs. That same day, BMI filed a lawsuit in its Rate Court challenging the government’s 100% licensing interpretation of the consent decree. On September 16, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton issued an order rejecting the government’s interpretation and noting that “nothing in the consent decree gives support to the division’s views.”

Following the DOJ closing statement in August, ASCAP and BMI announced plans to pursue a joint strategy to address the DOJ’s failure to modernize the aging consent decrees and its decision to mandate 100% licensing, with BMI taking the lead on litigation and ASCAP exploring legislative reforms in Congress.


The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP's mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances. ASCAP members write the world's best-loved music and ASCAP has pioneered the efficient licensing of that music to hundreds of thousands of enterprises who use it to add value to their business - from bars, restaurants and retail, to radio, TV and cable, to Internet, mobile services and more. The ASCAP license offers an efficient solution for businesses to legally perform ASCAP music while respecting the right of songwriters and composers to be paid fairly. With 585,000 members representing more than 10 million copyrighted works, ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization (PRO) owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. Learn more and stay in touch, on Twitter@ASCAP and onFacebook.


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Lauren Iossa, ASCAP

liossa (at)


Cathy Halgas Nevins, ASCAP

cnevins (at)




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