SESAC Accused of Monopolizing Radio Music

A Nashville-based music-licensing company monopolizes the rights to tens of thousands of songs, forcing radio stations to pay "supracompetitive prices" for a blanket license, a station collective claims in Federal Court.

The Radio Music License Committee, which represents some 10,000 U.S. radio stations, claims SESAC Inc. portrays itself as a performance-rights organization in the vein of Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP, which protect their members against copyright infringement.

But in reality, the committee says, SESAC "is a cartel that has illegally monopolized an essential repertory of copyrighted music, that has quashed all competition with and among its 23,000 copyright-holding affiliates, and that uses its monopoly to coerce the U.S. radio industry and other consumers into paying SESAC supracompetitive prices."

SESAC's repertory includes music in a wide range of genres, including top 40, pop, hip-hop, rock, country, Spanish, blues, jazz, big band, folk, contemporary Christian, gospel and others, the lawsuit says.
The Radio Music License Committee's lawsuit comes on the heels of an antitrust class action filed against SESAC by local television stations in late 2009. That lawsuit is still pending.

The committee seeks an order declaring SESAC in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and barring it from charging "supracompetitive prices," the same condition placed on ASCAP and BMI.

Source: Courthouse News Service
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