United States of America v. Broadcast Music, Inc.

Case Movement

Case Details

  • Case Status: Denied
  • Docket Number: Case No. 16-3830
  • Category: Class Action

Performing Rights Organizations (PRO) BMI and ASCAP have long sold “blanket” licenses to restaurant operators. These licenses gave restaurants the right to perform any and all of the songs in a PRO’s repertory as often as they wanted for a set period of time. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) affirmed this concept, known as “full work licensing.” However, BMI sued DOJ claiming that BMI’s “blanket license” does not cover all songs listed in their repertory. Instead, they argue that their licenses only cover those songs in which BMI controls 100% of the interests. Nearly 85% of all songs have multiple authors and these authors are often represented by several PROs.

BMI prevailed in its suit against DOJ. The Department filed its appeal on May 18, 2017. We had urged DOJ to file its brief by May 18, 2017, and promised to join other groups in filing an amicus brief in support. We filed our amicus on May 25, 2017. We also filed a motion for leave to participate in oral argument, which was denied. Oral argument took place on December 1, 2017.


Regretfully, on December 19, 2017, the Second Circuit panel affirmed the decision of the U.S. District Court in favor of BMI. No decision by DOJ on whether it will appeal