Court Sides With GMR On Lack Of Keystone State Jurisdiction


A U.S. Magistrate Judge has recommended that the presiding District Judge in a Philadelphia-based federal court dismiss an antitrust lawsuit filed in November 2016 by the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) against the Irving Azoff-led Global Music Rights (GMR) music licensing orgaization.

Why was the case recommended for dismissal? The Court agreed with GMR that the Keystone State court has no jurisdiction in the matter.

It’s a bit of a setback for RMLC, which one year ago launched an assault against the public-performance-right licensing agency for behavior that they claim could lead to monopolistic performance fees for commercial AMs and FMs across the U.S.

The filing of the GMR complaint came following the summer 2015 settlement of similar litigation between RMLC and SESAC.

In response to RMLC, GMR filed a motion asserting that the Pennsylvania court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. The music rights organization argued that it had no meaningful contacts with Pennsylvania.

This argument was accepted, with the Magistrate Judge encouraging RMLC to re-file its case in federal court in California, where a related case is pending.

In a statement released late Thursday by Executive Director Bill Velez, the Committee said, “Although RMLC is disappointed in the preliminary ruling, that ruling is not a final decision as to whether RMLC can prosecute its case in Pennsylvania, and it does not address the merits of RMLC’s antitrust claims in any way.  The preliminary ruling simply addresses the geographic location of the court where RMLC’s claims should be heard.”

Additionally, RMLC maintains that its case is properly before a Pennsylvania court. Thus, it intends to appeal the preliminary jurisdictional ruling to the presiding District Judge, who will make a final decision.

“Regardless which court ultimately presides over RMLC’s claims, RMLC is committed to its mission to protect the interests of all its member stations against GMR’s anticompetitive abuse,” the Committee said.

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by the law firm of Latham & Watkins, on behalf of the RMLC as the sole plaintiff in the action.

RMLC’s Chairman is Saga Communications President/CEO Ed Christian.

GMR was founded in 2013 by Azoff and represents music rights holders for the licensing of their public performances.

Former Performing Rights Organization (PRO) executives Randy Grimmett and Sean O’Malley run operations.

GMR offers licensing, distribution and collection services for the exclusive rights granted to music creators and owners by copyright law.