Is Irving sending a signal to all digital services? Oh, I just betcha he is.
There’s actually a pretty simple answer to the very public demand letter to YouTube from Irving’s Global Music Rights. If Irving’s GMR has the public performance rights to these high profile songwriters it’s probably because the writers transferred their songs to GMR from wherever they were. The songs had to start somewhere.
If those songs transferred out of the ASCAP, BMI and SESAC environment, then it’s likely that none of them are subject to blanket licenses granted by those societies. That also means that those songs aren’t part of the US government’s iron fisted control over songwriters, either. Which means that unlike at least ASCAP and BMI, GMR is under no obligation to license anything to anybody.
That means that it’s possible that anyone who had a blanket license with the societies now has to also have a deal with GMR. If you think that is unusually fragmented, send your thank you note to the U.S. Department of Justice, followed closely by Pandora. The dynamic duo of DOJ and Pandora have been doing their best to screw up collective licensing in the U.S. for years.
Well, Pandora, now you’ve got it.
Here’s how it could work. Even though artists are subject to the compulsory license for sound recordings that is the backbone of Pandora’s business, songwriters that are not subject to the Department of Justice are free to say no. That would include GMR songwriters, you know, the ones who write the hits.
If GMR songwriters decide they don’t want to be in Pandora, then Pandora can’t use the songs.
So YouTube may stumble around trying to come up with a theory other than Lex Google Sum, but they, too, are on notice that they don’t have rights to these songs. That’s called “red flag knowledge” in the trade. And red flag knowledge of infringement trumps the DMCA safe harbors.
Just in case you thought that 100,000,000 take down notices didn’t do the trick.
So Irving Azoff is broadcasting his intentions if you ask me. Is anyone listening?