In further attempt to keep publishing rates low, Pandora is asking the judge to determine whether or not publishers like Universal, BMG Chrysalis and Warner/Chapell are obligated to keep limited “New Media” rights. Pandora believes that publishers that want to make direct deals with the internet radio company should not be able to withdraw their digital rights from ASCAP – and must stay within the bounds of the consent decree as deemed by the organization.
According to Billboard, Universal and BMG are expected to withdraw their digital rights from ASCAP on July 1st, although Warner/Chappell is keeping their decision quiet for now.
Pandora’s application for a license allows them to play music under an interim license until an official rate is set, which is technically supposed to apply to UMPG, BMG, Warner/Chappell and Sony/ATV until December 31st, 2015.
The publishers’ side of the argument is that they have the right to withdraw their rights from ASCAP at any time, particularly because ASCAP represents them non-exclusively and because songwriters have the right to change PRO association.
Currently, Pandora pays 5% of its revenue to publishers – an increase from last year’s 4.3%. However, direct licensing deals scored Warner/Chappell and Sony/ATV a 10% rate with iTunes Radio, according to Billboard. That is encouraging publishers to reevaluate their deals with Pandora, and, hence, the alleged plans to withdraw digital rights from ASCAP.
A ruling on the motion is expected late July.