On November 18, 2016, an antitrust lawsuit was filed in a Philadelphia-based federal court by the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) against the Irving Azoff-led Global Music Rights (GMR) music licensing organization.
The case, assigned to the Hon. C. Darnell Jones II, is now in its third year without resolution and has come with twists and turns — including jurisdictional challenges.
On Tuesday, a new development in this battle over radio royalty fees emerged.
At issue for the Irving Azoff-led GMR is the introduction by RMLC of recent correspondence as new evidence in the ongoing case being heard in the Pennsylvania Eastern District Court.
In a 14-page filing made Jan. 29, GMR’s attorneys — led by Daniel Petrocelli at Los Angeles-based O’Melveny & Myers — slammed the RMLC for asking the court to “supplement the jurisdictional record” with “evidence” that it claims is relevant to the jurisdictional analysis.
What is this “evidence”?
As the Global Music Rights attorneys note, it is GMR’s decision in December 2018 to not enter into a license with a “noninteractive streaming service” owned and operated by an RMLC member that is headquartered in Pennsylvania.
It did not reveal the entity by name.
The Radio Music License Committee represents the interests of the commercial radio industry on music licensing matters. However, Entercom VP/Treasurer and Controller Gene Levin sits on RMLC’s executive committee. As such, this service could very well be Entercom’s Radio.com.
An Entercom spokesperson was not immediately available.
For GMR, RMLC’s belief that the Pennsylvania court should exercise jurisdiction because GMR declined to do business in the Keystone State “is wrong in every respect.”
That said, GMR’s attorneys are still perturbed that they are in Pennsylvania in the first place.
In December 2017, a U.S. Magistrate Judge recommended that the presiding District Judge in a Philadelphia-based federal court dismiss the antitrust lawsuit. The judge agreed with GMR that the Keystone State court has no jurisdiction in the matter.
The Magistrate Judge encouraged RMLC to re-file its case in federal court in California, where a related case was pending.
In a statement sent to RBR+TVBR at the time, RMLC Executive Director Bill Velez explained that the judge’s ruling was not a final decision as to whether RMLC can prosecute its case in Pennsylvania, and did not address the merits of RMLC’s antitrust claims in any way.
As such, RMLC continued with its case in Pennsyvlania with a team of Latham & Watkins attorneys led by Alfred Pfeiffer Jr., and GMR is not happy.
“It is no surprise RMLC brazenly ignored this court’s directive to confer with opposing counsel before filing its motion,” GMR’s counsel say.
But, their biggest argument is, their view, that “the proper focus in the specific jurisdiction analysis is on those contacts leading up to and surrounding the accrual of the cause of action. Later events are not considered.”
Thus, the December 2018 decision by GMR is irrelevant in this fight, GMR argues. “RMLC seeks to ‘supplement’ the jurisdictional record with events that occurred more than two years after the complaint was filed.”
Reached by e-mail, Velez said the RMLC has no comment at this time.