Broadcast Music, Inc. v. CBS, Inc.

Respondent Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. (CBS), brought this action against petitioners, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), and their members and affiliates, alleging, inter alia, that the issuance by ASCAP and BMI to CBS of blanket licenses to copyrighted musical compositions at fees negotiated by them is illegal price-fixing under the antitrust laws. Blanket licenses give the licensees the right to perform any and all of the compositions owned by the members or affiliates as often as the licensees desire for a stated term. Fees for blanket licenses are ordinarily a percentage of total revenues or a flat dollar amount, and do not directly depend on the amount or type of music used. After a trial limited to the issue of liability, the District Court dismissed the complaint, holding, inter alia, that the blanket license was not price-fixing and a per se violation of the Sherman Act. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for consideration of the appropriate remedy, holding that the blanket license issued to television networks was a form of price-fixing illegal per se under the Sherman Act and established copyright misuse.