BMI v. Pandora Media, Inc., 2013 ILRC 3301, No. 13-cv-4037 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 19, 2013).
The BMI rate court (District Court Judge Louis Stanton) holds that when BMI no longer is authorized by music publisher copyright holders to license their compositions to Pandora (and other New Media Services), those compositions are no longer in BMI's "repertory" and BMI can no longer license them to Pandora or any other applicant. Accordingly, the Court denied Pandora's motion for partial summary judgment. The holding is contrary to the ASCAP rate court's finding.
The BMI court focused on section 106 of the Copyright Act and a copyright owners right to "license, or not license, the performance of their compositions as they see fit. In the exercise of that right the publishers have agreed with BMI to withdraw their New Media performance licensing rights from Pandora and New Media Services. That is well within their power as copyright holders." The Court held that songs that publishers have withdrawn New Media licensing rights are not in BMI's new media repertory and therefore BMI cannot deal in or license those compositions to anyone. "BMI's repertory consists of compositions whose performance BMI 'has the right to license or sublicense.'"
Notably (in fn. 4), the BMI rate court acknowledged that its finding is contrary to that of the ASCAP rate court (Judge Cote). The BMI court stated: "The inconsistency is just a difference of view of the power of the application of Section 106 and the copyright holders' rights under the Copyright Law, and will be resolved by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit or decree amendment procedures, or managed commercially."