×

Judge Moves Global Music Rights Dispute to California Court

After more than two years of bitter litigation, a Pennsylvania judge has decided that he does not have the power to adjudicate a fight between the nation’s radio stations and Global Music Rights, an upstart licensing company founded by Irving Azoff.

U.S. District Court Judge C. Darnell Jones II issued a ruling on Friday transferring the case to federal court in Los Angeles. The ruling marks a victory for Global Music Rights, which has argued since 2016 that the case belongs in California.

Azoff’s company launched in 2013, with the aim of disrupting the way radio stations license music. The vast majority of songs are controlled by either BMI or ASCAP. Radio stations pay a set rate to license those songs, which has long been governed by an arbitration process under judicial consent decrees.

Azoff lured about 70 artists and songwriters away from ASCAP and BMI, including Bruce Springsteen, Drake, and Eddie Vedder. Though GMR’s catalog is still dwarfed by BMI and ASCAP, the company represents artists that are deemed essential to radio stations’ playlists.

In 2016, GMR engaged in licensing negotiations with the Radio Music License Committee, which represents more than 90% of the nation’s radio stations. Those talks broke down in late 2016, and both sides filed suit, each accusing the other of anti-trust violations.

The RMLC filed first, in federal court in Philadelphia. The RMLC argues that GMR is seeking extortionate rates for its artists, and should be compelled to arbitrate under the same scheme that governs BMI and ASCAP. GMR accuses the RMLC of being an illegal cartel, which suppresses licensing fees paid to artists. GMR’s suit, filed in Los Angeles, has been on hold pending the outcome of the Pennsylvania case.

Jones’ ruling did not resolve any of the underlying disagreements. Instead, the judge found that he does not have “personal jurisdiction” over GMR, but that such jurisdiction does apply in Los Angeles. GMR had argued that the RMLC filed in Pennsylvania for “tactical advantage.” The RMLC is based in Nashville, and GMR is headquartered in Los Angeles.

Early in the case, GMR threatened that radio stations that kept playing its artists’ songs after Jan. 1, 2017, could face copyright suits. The two sides have since been operating under an interim license agreement pending the outcome of the litigation.

More Music

  • Obit Obituary Placeholder

    Nick Tosches, Author of Dean Martin and Jerry Lee Lewis Biographies, Dies at 69

    Some time around the turn of the century, author Nick Tosches prankishly hacked his own online biography so that it gave his death date as the year 2021 — picked, he said, because “it was the anniversary of Dante’s death (in 1321); it made so much sense.” He wasn’t too many years off with that [...]

  • Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike

    Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike Take No. 1 Spot on Top 100 DJs Poll

    The duo of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike top DJ Mag’s 2019 Top 100 DJs poll, returning to the list since taking the No. 1 spot in 2015 and dethroning Martin Garrix after three years of dominance. The results of the Top 100 DJs were arrived at from 1.3 million votes cast in 179 countries. [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Marc Byers

    Execs from Motown, Live Nation, Recording Academy Set to Speak at Culture Creators' Inaugural C2 Summit

    Culture Creators, the organization which recognizes minorities in film, television, music and fashion, is holding its first-ever C2 Summit on Oct. 21 in Washington D.C. Its mission: to engage, mentor, and provide recruitment opportunities to students of color attending historically black colleges and universities. Students were selected from an application process and will participate in [...]

  • Rami Dawod SESAC

    SESAC Toasts Rami Dawod as Pop Songwriter of the Year

    Camila Cabello’s “Never Be The Same” and “Electricity” by Mark Ronson and Silk City featuring Dua Lipa are just a few of the co-writing credits celebrated during an October 16 dinner at Nobu Malibu hosted by SESAC in honor of Rami Dawod. Named Pop Songwriter of the Year by the performance rights organization, Dawod is [...]

  • Luis Fonsi Erika Ender Latin Grammys

    The Second Latin Explosion: How 'Despacito' Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

    Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention. The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content