BMI, Cable Trial Wraps

The trial between BMI and members of the cable tv industry has ended in Federal Court in Washington, D.C., with Judge Joyce Hens Green reserving decision until after filing of post-trial briefs. Decision could affect BMI’s right to blanket license music use by the cablers.

Trial began March 26 in the case brought in January 1990 by the National Cable Television Assn., the Community Antenna Television Assn., the Disney Channel and Black Entertainment Television. Central issue is whether BMI composers and publishers are entitled to payment by both cable programmers and local cable tv operators for use of their music.

BMI maintained that the organization was within its rights under the copyright law to seek license fees reflecting the value of the music from both parties, each of which receives revenues from the use of BMI’s repertoire.

The cablers also have held that BMI’s practice of charging fees for all of its compositions instead of only those used is in violation of federal antitrust laws.

BMI also alleges that several cable operators had not been paying license fees for music used on local cable systems prior to the suit and that many cable programmers also failed to negotiate music performance agreements.

In a post-trial session April 19, BMI presented uncontested evidence in support of its counter-claim of ongoing willful copyright infringement by the Disney Channel and BET.

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