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William Barr Must Choose Between Protecting Local Musicians or Enriching Big Music | Newsmax

Why the Justice Department is revisiting this issue when it just finalized a two-year review of their agreements three years ago, in which it decided that they should remain unchanged, is anyone’s guess. While there are certainly far bigger fish to fry at the DOJ, it seems that whenever Big Music cries loudly enough it finds a shoulder to cry on in Washington.

One thing’s for certain, though: what is good for Big Music almost always represents a disaster for everyone else in the industry and removing these DOJ agreements would be of no exception.

These settlements came about in 1941 because of accusations that the two organizations were using their high market share to price gouge, among other anti-competitive practices. The Justice Department understood the benefits of having two companies house the vast majority of performing rights – preventing accounting nightmares for small businesses. However, it also recognized the need to temper the anti-competitive behavior that arose because of the monopolies’ power and influence. As a result, the DOJ decided that both companies could stay intact so long as it implemented rules they agreed to that would prevent future malicious behavior.

The most significant achievement of these DOJ agreements has been their help in promoting local music by introducing the blanket licensing system, which protects fair market pricing and prevents infringement lawsuits by allowing any business to purchase licenses that cover all the songs under ASCAP and BMI’s purview.

The benefits of this system are incalculable. All musicians know the drill: to become noticed and develop a fan base, many performers need to first play covers in small venues, including bars and restaurants. The Black Keys started their career at the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern in Cleveland while The Killersbegan at an open mic night at the Café Espresso Roma in Las Vegas. In the absence of these agreements between ASCAP/BMI and the DOJ, far fewer small businesses would entertain the prospect of promoting local artists because of the higher costs they would incur as a result of their price-gouging of performance licenses. It would amount to a win for big music executives and a net loss for everyone else.

Should the DOJ move forward and sunset or terminate the Big Music agreements, the most troubling aspect would be its ignorance of the alarm bells sounded by congressional leaders – including the chairmen of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committee – of doing so without an alternative framework in place.

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William Barr Must Choose Between Protecting Local Musicians or Enriching Big Music | Newsmax.com.

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