Entravision Communications has reached an agreement to settle a pending copyright infringement case brought by Global Music Rights for alleged unlicensed spins of music in its repertoire. Terms of the tentative deal have not been made public and still need the approval of a federal court. The agreement comes after U.S. District Court Judge Terry Hatter tossed out the antitrust suit that the radio group filed against GMR earlier this year.
The performance rights organization sued Entravision last October after determining that the company’s radio stations had spun songs in GMR’s catalog more than 10,000 times between 2017 and 2019. GMR’s suit alleged that it warned Entravision its stations were not authorized to publicly perform its works unless the Hispanic media company signed the interim licensing deal that was being offered to broadcasters. GMR said that never happened and asked the court for the maximum statuary damages of at least $150,000 per composition. “Entravision made a willful, calculated, and strategic decision not to obtain prior authorization to perform publicly the Global Music Rights Compositions and hope that Global Music Rights would not find out or would choose not to enforce its rights,” its lawsuit said.
In response, Entravision in January fired back with its own antitrust claim against GMR. It said the Irving Azoff-led company only offered a license to its entire bundle, even though just a handful of English-language compositions would be of interest to Spanish-language radio. In doing so, Entravision alleged GMR was forcing it to “absorb the newly disparate high costs” just to get the Spanish-language music it desired. It argued that violated state and federal antitrust laws.
But Hatter rejected Entravision’s allegations and earlier this month dismissed the antitrust claim. He did, however, give Entravision until July 9 to file a new counterclaim but the company apparently decided to simply settle the case. In a brief filing with the court, attorneys for both Entravision and GMR said they plan to submit their settlement agreement for the judge’s approval by July 24.
The larger question of how much broadcasters should pay GMR remains the subject of an ongoing antitrust battle between the company and the Radio License Music Committee. Most radio stations have opted to sign interim licensing deals with GMR in the meantime. The latest offered a one-year arrangement that will give broadcasters access to songs in the GMR repertoire through March 31, 2021.
The coronavirus pandemic has delayed many court cases, and it has become unclear whether the RMLC-GMR battle will be affected. In early March, before the lockdowns began, Hatter set a timeline that included a final pre-trial hearing for mid-October with a trial set to begin sometime after that.