In response to the Department of Justice (DOJ) filing an amicus brief in support of Irving Azoff and his long-standing legal battle with the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has filed a motion to issue their own amicus brief, which criticizes the DOJ’s brief.
The dispute goes back to 2016, when the RMLC sued Azoff’s Global Music Rights (GMR), which is a small performing rights organization that represents some big stars. This includes:
- Pharrell Williams
- Bruce Springsteen
- Eddie Vedder
In their lawsuit, the RMLC accused the GMR of setting licensing rates that were akin to extortion. The GMR responded by filing their own suit against the RMLC, claiming that the organization was illegally capping licensing fees.
While this battle has continued, the two parties have been operating on an interim agreement.
In its December brief with the Western Division of the U.S. District Court’s Central District of California, the DOJ argued that the RMLC was essentially acting as a buyer’s cartel, and it called on the court to decide in favor of the GMR.
The NAB brief provides a full-throated counterargument to this.
They state that the DOJ has historically been supportive of enforcing antitrust laws against performing rights organizations such as the GMR. They further called the department’s change in views in this particular case “unjustified and unwarranted.”
The brief goes on to say that the DOJ has long held the belief that the RMLC had a right to function as what it termed a “buying collaboration.” It even once called the organization “pro-competitive.”
Dan Petrocelli of the law firm O’Melveny & Myers, which is representing the GMR in the dispute, issued a statement in response to NAB’s brief. They told Billboard that “the NAB’s position that the RMLC should be permitted to fix prices is dead wrong.”
The case is scheduled to go to trial this November.