Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights Sues Vermont Broadcast Associates Over Alleged Copyright Infringement

Global Music Rights founder Irving Azoff
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Global Music Rights founder Irving Azoff.

Global Music Rights (GMR) has officially filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against radio station operator Vermont Broadcast Associates (VBA) and its owner, Bruce James.

The Irving Azoff-founded performance rights organization (PRO) just recently submitted the straightforward complaint to a Vermont federal court. Having arrived on the scene 11 years back, the invitation-only Global Music Rights represents works from about 150 commercially prominent songwriters, among them Drake and The Eagles.

On the other side of the courtroom confrontation, Vermont Broadcast Associates – not to be confused with the Vermont Association of Broadcasters, which counts James as an inductee in its hall of fame – operates seven traditional radio stations across the namesake Vermont as well as New Hampshire and Quebec, according to its website.

And to legally play protected music on these stations, VBA is required by U.S. copyright law to secure a license for the public performance of the underlying compositions at hand. As laid out in the plaintiff’s to-the-point complaint, however, the defendant radio operator has “since at least 2017” used GMR members’ works sans permission.

“When a terrestrial radio company performs a musical composition without obtaining the necessary advanced permission,” the italics-heavy suit reads in part, “it acts in violation of federal copyright laws.

“When that terrestrial radio company had been offered ten separate opportunities to license the public performances, declined all of those opportunities, paid nothing for performances, and still performed 66 compositions more than 1,600 times, then it acted willfully in violation of federal copyright laws,” the text proceeds.

Per the PRO, it forwarded written licensing agreement proposals to the defendants in January and August of 2017, February and August of 2018, February and August of 2019, March of 2020, March and December of 2021, and January of 2022.

Predictably, given the present complaint, VBA “did not accept any” of the offers and hasn’t paid “GMR any license fees” since January of 2017, according to the suit. As Global Music Rights sees it, the move represents a “strategic decision” to avoid coughing up for the use of the well-known works in question.

While not necessarily indicative of an eventual settlement with VBA, it’s worth noting that GMR in January of 2023 settled a pair of separate lawsuits, this time involving radio groups Red Wolf Broadcasting and One Putt Broadcasting.

Before that, February of 2022 had seen GMR put to rest a lengthier showdown with the Radio Music License Committee, an organization that says it aims “to achieve fair and reasonable license fees with the music licensing organizations…on behalf of radio stations.”