Songwriters sue Justice Department over consent decree changes

us dept justice canvasSongwriters are suing the Department of Justice over its consent decree decision. Specifically, they are targeting the new “100 percent licensing” rule, which allows a single songwriter to license compositions written by a team in some circumstances. The plaintiffs say that change to the consent decrees governing performing rights organization could nullify private contracts between collaborating writers.

“The 100 percent mandate is an illegitimate assertion of agency power in gross violation of plaintiffs’ due process rights, copyright interests and freedom of contacts, and needs to be set aside,” the suit said. It seeks a declaration that the new rule is unlawful.

The case is being mounted by Songwriters of North America, an advocacy group founded about a year ago. “There is no way I could afford to be a songwriter just on streaming and digital radio,” said co-founder Michelle Lewis.

Anna Washenko


  1. “There is no way I could afford to be a songwriter just on streaming and digital radio,” said co-founder Michelle Lewis.

    Wasn’t aware that the government is required to provide songwriters a better guarantee to income than any other business. Last I checked, none of the streaming services have turned a profit either. Nobody is happy with the arrangement.

  2. Quite the opposite. Radio and streaming services are the ones with the government support via consent decrees. Songwriters are not asking for a guaranteed income. Just simply being allowed to compete in free market. She’s rightly calling unconstitutional the system that mandates songwriters give music to broadcasters at below market rates. The broadcasters through the mic-coalition went a step too far pushing for 100% licensing. You should have left it alone but your side got greedy. No one to blame but yourselves. Now we have a clear constitutional case (violating legal private contracts ) and clear violation of the APA. Besides broadcasters should thank her. A world with 100% licensing forces 100,000s of thousands maybe millions of songs out of BMI/ASCAP licenses. You’re gonna pay more when you have to direct license those songs, or they end up in a PRO without DOJ consent decree. I bet Google didn’t tell broadcasters that when Mic-Coalition started this push. Did they?

  3. Last time I checked, songwriters negotiate directly with the RMLC. Right?

Comments are closed.