A PYMNTS Company

US: Songsmiths sue DoJ over Google-friendly rules ruling

 |  September 14, 2016

Two independent women songwriters are suing the US antitrust department of the Department of Justice over its proposal to rip up songwriters’ contracts to make them more Google-friendly.

Crucially, in the remarks, the DoJ proposes that both ASCAP and BMI must accept 100 per cent licensing – so Spotify and other giant music licensees only need to negotiate with one songwriter, without bothering to check with named co-writers.

The lawsuit argues that the DoJ overstepped its authority in its plan, and also names as defendants both the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, and acting assistant A-G Renata Hesse, who for some years worked on antitrust issues for Google, a client of her then employer, law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

As deputy attorney general at the DoJ and head of its antitrust division, Hesse is the architect of a proposal to compel songwriters to hand over their rights. The so-called “100 per cent licensing” proposal ensnares not just US songwriters, but British authors and composers too.

“I did a lot of work for Google on [antitrust],” Hesse admitted in 2008. Critics see the DoJ’s desire to rip up songwriters contracts as part of a broader trend, in which the Obama Administration appointed Silicon Valley-friendly officials and Obama supporters in key regulatory posts at the FCC and the FTC, nominally “independent” agencies that report to Congress.

Full Content: The Register

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.