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Radio Stations Take Note: GMR Interim Music License Extended

- Plus, State of Play on Performance Tax in DC

Since Global Music Rights (GMR) launched in 2017, the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) has been attempting to resolve the question of whether the rates charged by GMR should be subject to some sort of antitrust review as are rates set by ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. With no resolution in hand, the RMLC announced last week that GMR has agreed to extend its interim license for the performance of their music by commercial Radio stations until Sept. 30, 2019.

This is the fourth six-month extension granted and Radio stations are urged to ensure they have a license to play GMR music which includes songs written by several popular songwriters.

Otherwise, commercial stations “should discuss carefully with counsel their potential options and liabilities if they continue to play GMR music,” cautions David Oxenford, an attorney with Wilkinson Barker Knauer who frequently addresses music licensing issues at TAB’s Annual Convention.

“Do not ignore the potential liability as, under copyright law, there are substantial ‘statutory damages’ of up to $150,000 per song for infringement.”

Noncommercial stations are not covered by this license because public performance royalties for such stations are set by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB). The stations also should discuss their royalty obligations under the CRB decision with their counsel.

Attorneys Kevin Goldberg and Karyn K. Ablin with the Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth law firm – in an especially witty blog post on an otherwise dry topic – offer the following highlights:

  • The latest extension is being offered on the same rates and terms as each of the past interim licenses.
  • Stations currently performing musical works from the GMR catalog under an interim license should expect to be contacted by GMR by mid-March regarding an extension.
  • Stations that have not been contacted by GMR by March 15, 2019, should proactively contact GMR at 844-827-5467. (Do not contact the RMLC.)

Performance Tax Update
TAB held meetings with 37 of the state’s 38 Members of Congress in Washington, DC last week in part to press them for support of the Local Radio Freedom Act, a non-binding resolution that opposes forcing Radio stations to pay a new performance royalty.  Such a royalty would come on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars stations already pay collectively each year in royalties to songwriters, composers, authors and other artists through ASCAP, BMI, SESAC – and now GMR.

Co-authored by Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, and Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Florida, HConRes 20 was filed two weeks ago and now has 133 co-sponsors, including nine from Texas. We lost seven of our 22 co-sponsors in 2018 because of retirements and election losses.

Radio GMs will be receiving notices from me this week to thank our supporters and secure support among the remaining members of the Texas Congressional delegation.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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