On Tuesday, Sen. Mike Lee is holding an antitrust hearing. In following what Utah learned from August’s Hatch Center symposium on music licensing, he must ask the Justice Department about its review of the music consent decrees that protect the industry from abuse.
Decades ago, music publishers colluded into two institutions that license popular music. They controlled 90-percent of music back then, and they still do today.
The Justice Department watched the music monopolies for anti-free market activity. In 1941, it imposed consent decrees, preventing them from price-gouging. Now, small businesses can afford to play music and give musicians a venue. This makes everyone, including the performers that have sounded alarm bells on the monopolies' abuse, happy.
The Music Modernization Act says DOJ shall provide timely briefings upon request of any member of the Senate or House Judiciary committees. Not only is Lee a member of Judiciary; he also serves as the chairman of the antitrust subcommittee. It doesn’t meet often but has a hearing scheduled for today.
Lee must use his oversight authority to request the briefing he’s entitled to.
Robert Bell, Salt Lake City