July 15 The U.S. Department of Justice is
investigating possible pricing coordination among music
publishing companies as it reviews the decades-old rules that
govern the cost of licensing songs, the Wall Street Journal
reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Justice Department has sent out requests for documents
from Sony Corp's Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Vivendi
SA's Universal Music Publishing, along with the
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)
and Broadcast Music Inc (BMI), the Journal said.
The DoJ is seeking materials related to a wide range of
licensing issues, including the two publishers' efforts to
withdraw their rights from ASCAP and BMI's licensing agreements
with Internet radio company Pandora Media Inc, the
newspaper said, citing the people. (on.wsj.com/Uaeo9W)
The request, formally known as civil investigative demands,
are part of the DoJ's sweeping review of its rate-setting
agreements with ASCAP and BMI, the Journal said.
ASCAP, BMI, Universal Music and Sony/ATV did not immediately
respond to emails seeking comment.
Last month, the DoJ said it was considering changing or
scrapping agreements it reached with two music licensing giants
more than 70 years ago to freshen them up for the Internet age.
Any dispute over the cost of a license goes to "rate
courts," which are based in the U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of New York.
Songwriters use music publishers to promote their works, and
to do certain licensing tasks - for example, the licensing of
"mechanical" rights, for the sale and distribution of
Publishers use BMI and ASCAP, both not-for-profit entities,
to collectively license works for public performance to major
music users like Pandora Media.
(Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar