NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) — The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishes (ASCAP) has agreed to pay $1.75 million and reform certain practices after allegations it violated a court order involving collective licensing, the Department of Justice announced.

In the court order, ASCAP was barred from interfering with its members’ ability to directly license their songs. The organization, however, purportedly entered into roughly 150 contracts with members that made ASCAP the exclusive licenser of their performance rights.

“By blocking members’ ability to license their songs themselves, ASCAP undermined a critical protection of competition contained in the consent decree,” said principal deputy assistant attorney general Renata B. Hesse, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “The Supreme Court said ASCAP’s consent decree is supposed to provide music users with a ‘real choice’ in how they can access the millions of songs in ASCAP’s repertory – through ASCAP’s blanket license or through direct negotiations with individual songwriters and publishers. 

"Today’s settlement restores that choice and thereby promotes competition among the songwriters, the publishers and ASCAP. This settlement also sends an important message to ASCAP and others subject to antitrust consent decrees that they must abide by the terms of the decrees or face significant consequences.”

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