BMI Makes Deal With HBO; Lawsuits Dropped

BMI has negotiated a new performing rights license agreement with HBO, resulting in the parties dropping federal court litigation pending in New York and Los Angeles.

Agreement, retroactive to Feb. 1,1990, and extending through 1992, provides that HBO pay an interim annual license fee of 15&cents; per subscriber, pending federal court rulings on dual licensing of cable tv.

Dual licensing is seen as the main issue of the litigation; BMI is seeking payment from both the programmer and the local system operator. The question probably will be decided in a case pending before federal court in Washington, D.C., brought by the National Cable Television Assn., the Disney Channel, Black Entertainment Television and others against BMI. Trial is to begin March 26.

The interim pact assures that HBO was licensed and did not infringe on BMI’s composers’ and copyright holders’ rights, and that those composers and copyright holders will be compensated for public performance of their works on HBO, Cinemax and the Comedy Channel.

BMI had filed a copyright infringement suit against HBO in December 1989. The suit was held in abeyance until Feb. 1,1990, while the two sides tried to negotiate a new license agreement. But in late January of last year, the ATC cable tv system (like HBO, a subsidiary of Time Warner) sued BMI in federal court in Los Angeles, resulting in BMI’s reinstating its suit against HBO in New York, adding Manhattan Cable Television as a defendant.

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