Irving Azoff has fired back at the 10,000 radio stations who sued Global Music Rights last month.
Today in federal court, attorneys for GMR filed a suit against the Radio Music License Committee, calling RMLC an “illegal cartel” and accusing the group of “exercising market dominance and brazenly violating competition laws.”
The two sides are in a dispute over how much GMR can charge radio stations for performance licenses to play compositions written by artists like Justin Beiber, John Lennon, Smokey Robinson, Steve Miller, Shakira and Drake. The radio station group filed a lawsuit on Nov. 19, trying to force GMR into a fixed price system, similar to ASCAP and BMI who’s pricing is set by a 75-year-old Department of Justice Consent Decree. Officials with the RMLC issued a statement saying Azoff’s group was overcharging for artists performance licenses and “if unchecked, would allow GMR to charge the U.S. commercial radio industry monopoly prices to publicly perform musical works in the GMR repertory.”
Azoff responded by hiring Daniel Petrocelli, a high-profile attorney who represented President Elect Donald Trump in the Trump University lawsuit.
In his countersuit, Petrocelli is leveling antitrust charges against the radio group for violating the Sherman Act’s provision outlawing “conspiracy in restraint of trade,” and breaking California laws against unfair competition. According to a press release from Azoff’s group, Petrocelli is also seeking “an injunction forbidding the cartel from continuing its anticompetitive conduct.”
According to the statement, the defendant radio group “represents more than 7,000 radio stations across the country, which collectively reach 245 million listeners a week and constitute more than 90% of radio industry revenue.”
“Terrestrial radio stations pay less than 4% of their revenue – an infinitesimal percentage — to the songwriters who create that music,” the statement from GMR reads. “Other media distributors such as streaming music services, who are not part of a cartel like the RMLC, pay substantially more of their revenue share to perform these same works. In short, the cartel has been a smashing success.”
“Everyone is harmed when a conspiracy perverts the market and retards prices. Established songwriters aren’t compensated fairly for their works, new composers are not incentivized to write new hits, and radio listeners are blocked from hearing their favorite songs. Antitrust and competition laws forbid this. Incentivizing creativity and harnessing talent is the copyright law’s fundamental tenet – and GMR’s very purpose.”
Petrocelli is demanding a jury trial for the case in United States District Court for the Central District of California. Click here to read a copy of the civil complaint.
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