RMLC and GMR Reach Interim License Agreement for Commercial Radio Stations

The Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) recently sent a letter to radio stations to inform them about an interim arrangement RMLC has reached with performing rights organization Global Music Rights (GMR), for a license for radio stations to perform musical compositions controlled by GMR. The letter and attached radio station interim license agreement can be found on the RMLC website here. RMLC and GMR have been in litigation over licensing fees, and their temporary arrangement allows broadcasters to sign an interim license agreement to receive a nine-month reprieve from potential copyright infringement lawsuits for playing music licensed to GMR.

The agreement between RMLC and GMR provides that any station that signs the interim license agreement by January 31, 2017, and pays the applicable interim license fees, will not be subject to copyright infringement claims by GMR through September 30, 2017.

The RMLC letter recommends that radio stations “contact GMR to determine [their] specific fee for that interim license” and explains that GMR and each licensee retains the right to seek a retroactive fee adjustment in future licenses or as a result of the current litigations. The letter further states that the interim license agreement “contains all applicable license terms except for [a station’s] specific fee amount.” The license fee is different for each station, and RMLC indicates that stations can determine their individual license fees by contacting GMR at licensing@globalmusicrights.com.

The RMLC letter also provides the following guidance to stations with respect to the terms of the interim agreement:

  1. GMR will make the interim license available to all stations that wish to take it (except those that have already entered into a license with GMR).
  2. Stations have until January 31, 2017 to sign the interim license agreement and pay GMR according to its terms. GMR will not initiate copyright litigation against any station before January 31, 2017.
  3. The term of the interim license is 9 months, running from January 1, 2017 through September 30, 2017. Any station that signs the interim license agreement by January 31, 2017 and pays the applicable interim license fees will not be subject to copyright infringement claims by GMR for the term of the interim license.

To summarize, any station that chooses to take advantage of the GMR interim license must affirmatively “opt-in” and submit a signed license agreement to GMR before January 31, 2017. Stations that choose not to sign the interim license agreement should be aware that they could be exposing themselves to copyright infringement claims for continuing to play GMR music without a license.

This situation remains in flux, particularly in light of the ongoing litigation between the parties. If you have any questions regarding your station’s options under the RMLC/GMR interim license agreement, please contact any attorney in our office.