The U.S. Department of Justice is backing Irving Azoff and his Global Music Rights (GMR) organization in its long legal battle with the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) over the royalties radio stations pay songwriters.
GMR only represents a small cadre of 82 songwriters. But these songwriters have written more than one-hundred top-charting, smash-hit songs. Their roster includes names such as:
- Ryan Tedder
- Pharrell Williams
Since 2016, GMR and the RMLC have been battling in the courts, with each accusing the other of attempting to fix royalty rates.
In the latest salvo of the battle, the Justice Department has come out in support of Azoff through an amicus brief that it filed with the Western Division of the U.S. District Court’s Central District of California. The document calls on the court to reject a number of arguments that the RMLC has been making in the case.
The Justice Department insists that “the present case involves an alleged buyers’ cartel — a form of cartel that can be equally destructive of competition as a sellers’ cartel, even though it is discussed less frequently in the case law.”
To back their argument, the Justice Department cited a case back in 1948, in which California sugar refineries colluded in an effort to control beet prices.
The RMLC, which represents around 90% of traditional radio stations, has been trying to get the GMR to resolve their dispute through third-party mediation. But the Justice Department believes that this will not resolve the core issue of price-fixing.
Unsurprisingly, Azoff was pleased with the Justice Department’s filing. He issued a statement, in which he said, “Today is a great day for artists, who have been bullied by the RMLC since the dawn of the modern radio industry.”
He went on to say, “Advocating on behalf of artists is our founding principle, and we refused to allow this unfair status quo to continue. We believe the days of this brazen, long-running cartel are now numbered.”