DOJ to review music licensing laws

The guy who copyrighted "Happy Birthday to You" materializes to collect his royalties.

The guy who copyrighted “Happy Birthday to You” materializes to collect royalties.

The Department of Justice has announced plans to review the rules that govern music licensing companies Ascap and BMI, which remain unchanged since the antitrust investigation that spawned them in 1941. That was six years after some jerks copyrighted “Happy Birthday to You,” now the property of Warner/Chappell Music. If you’ve publicly performed that song since World War II, you owe Warner royalties. If you streamed it on Pandora, though—presumably as part of your Postpone Violent Rampage station—the publisher already got its share, pegged at 1.85% of total Pandora revenues. Ascap and BMI argue that rate is unfairly low, as are the the rules that prevent them from leveraging their power to raise it.

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