Pandora Files Motion With ASCAP Over Publishing Royalty Rates
June 21, 2013
In the latest chapter of Pandora's quest for lower royalty rate payments, the popular streaming music service has filed a motion with ASCAP's Rate Court, saying that publishers looking for their own agreements with Pandora are bound by ASCAP's consent decree and cannot withdraw from the organization in favor of cutting their own deals.
Sources familiar with the filing told Billboard.biz that Pandora is asking the judge to rule on publishers that have filed a notice already with ASCAP of their intent to withdraw some publishing rights as of July 1. Pandora says these publishers are obliged to keep these digital rights with ASCAP. Billboard's sources say that Universal and BMG Chrysalis plan to withdraw on July 1, but it is unknown if Warner/Chappell will also follow suit. Sony/ATV is not expected to withdraw its rights, but the publisher is also affected by the rate court decision.
Pandora also argues that since its own license with ASCAP runs up to the end of 2015, the ASCAP consent decree should also apply to the major publishers until that time as well. However, the publishers say that Pandora is operating under a temporary license, until an official rate is set, and that they are within their rights to withdraw digital rights from ASCAP.
The rate court judge is not expected to rule on the motion until late July, weeks after the publishers could withdraw from ASCAP.