Jenner & Block

Firm Achieves Win for SoundExchange in Muzak Royalty Rate Dispute

A Jenner & Block team recently won a victory for SoundExchange when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals revived its lawsuit over Muzak’s attempt to expand its use of a below-market, grandfathered royalty rate to perform sound recordings under the federal “statutory license."  SoundExchange, which administers the statutory license on behalf of recording artists and copyright owners, had alleged that Muzak was using the low rate in circumstances beyond those that Congress had envisioned in 1998, when it grandfathered certain music services into the low rate standard.  The suit, originally brought in 2015, was dismissed by the DC District Court last year.  In reversing the dismissal, the D.C. Circuit explained that the grandfather provision relied on by Muzak to justify its use of the lower rate should be construed narrowly, lest it defeat Congress’s purpose of moving the music industry to market rates.  Partner Joshua M. Segal presented the oral argument; additional members of the team included Partners Emily Chapuis and David A. Handzo, Associate Devi M. Rao, and Senior Paralegal Cheryl L. Olson.