DOJ Makes Dramatic Change In Music Licensing

DOJ Makes Dramatic Change In Music Licensing

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) formally announced last Thursday that it would not make any changes to the language in the consent decrees that govern the operations of ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), the two largest US performing rights organizations (PROs). This ends a two-year DOJ investigation into public performance licensing that took place at the request of the two PROs.

Don't Forget About the Music

I’m excited and humbled to be one of a number of music industry professionals who contributed to a recent book called Don’t Forget About The Music written by attorney Evita G. Kaigler.

Together with David Barbe, Rico Brooks, Michael “Sha Money” Clervoix, Ray Daniels, Maurice Garland, J. Hatch, Al “Butta” Mclean, Billy O’Connell and Jack Ponti, we offer up advice on how to achieve success in today’s music marketplace.

The book is a guide for artists, producers, songwriters, music business entrepreneurs and executives, providing perspective on the music industry and a concrete plan to build success.

Evita and I first worked together when I handled A&R Administration for Def Jam Recordings, working specifically on her client Big K.R.I.T.’s critically-acclaimed Def Jam debut Live From The Underground.

Pick up a copy and check out the entire plan at

Happy Birthday, The Coda

Details of the settlement reached in the case concerning ownership of the song “Happy Birthday To You” were released today with a filing in United States District Court. In the settlement, originally announced in December but which the court has only now been asked to approve, Warner/Chappell agreed to pay $14 million to licensors as well as $4.6 million in legal fees for the other parties in the suit.

The case centered on whether Warner/Chappell ever actually owned the lyrics to the song it acquired during its purchase of Clayton F. Summy Co., in 1988. Since then, it’s been estimated that the song generated about $2 million in yearly income through licensing.

“Happy Birthday To You” was written by Patty Smith Hill and her sister Mildred J. Hill in 1893 and will now officially become public domain, free for anyone to use without further permission.

Not a Happy Birthday for Warner/Chappell

In a decision that undoes years of licensing agreements, the United States District Court in California reached a decision on Tuesday in the case Rupa Marya, et. al. v. Warner/ Chappell Music, Inc., ruling that the classic song “Happy Birthday To You” is not owned by publisher Warner/Chappell.

Why the "Dancing Baby" decision is good for the internet.

Why the "Dancing Baby" decision is good for the internet.

Earlier this week, a judgment was finally reached in the long-running dispute between Stephanie Lenz and Universal Music Group (Lenz v. Universal [PDF]) known as the "dancing baby" lawsuit. The decision represents a very important ruling protecting the concept of "fair use" and helps to eliminate a means of censorship on the internet.