Earlier this month, the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) joined ranks with local radios stations, major motion picture studios, online streaming services and music venues to file an amicus brief seeking to overturn a recent federal court decision involving the National American Concert Promoters Association (“Concert Promoters”) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (“BMI”).
At the heart of the dispute was whether the licensing fees the concert promoters would be required to pay BMI for their use of BMI’s catalogue would be governed by the procompetitive principles contained in the BMI consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice or if BMI would be allowed to seek much higher royalties by relying on third-party licensing agreements with the newer and unregulated performance rights organizations who often utilize unfair pricing power.
The lower court unfortunately agreed with the latter concept, a decision that could generate much higher licensing fees for all entities (including IAVM members) who routinely license music from BMI.
“The consent decrees that govern ASCAP and BMI help ensure a competitive marketplace that the business events industry relies upon to license music for conferences, trade shows, and other in-person events,” noted Tommy Goodwin, FASAE, CAE, PMP, CMP, Vice President of Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA). “By ignoring years of rate-setting precedent in this case, the district court’s decision would unfairly raise licensing fees for event organizers, convention centers, and others going forward. That’s why ECA was pleased to join this important effort from a wide-range of respected stakeholders to overturn this flawed anti-competitive decision.”
The amicus brief filed earlier this month encourages the federal court of appeals to overturn the district court’s recent decision; thereby guaranteeing all venues will continue to have access to reasonable licensing fees going forward.