U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where GMR is battling the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) (photo: Jeffrey M. Vinocur CC 2.5)

The ugly war between Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights and major US-based radio stations continues.

Looks like ‘hugging it out’ isn’t an option in this ugly legal war.

Just this week, performance rights organization Global Music Rights (GMR) and terrestrial radio group Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) continued to spar over royalty obligations in U.S. District Court.  RMLC says GMR is trying to bully major radio broadcasters into paying higher performance fees, and using its considerable catalog of high-powered hits to force the higher rates.

Among other allegations, RMLC has accused Azoff’s GMR of antitrust violations.

In the latest round, GMR’s attorneys are arguing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that the RMLC is unfairly introducing new evidence into its case.  The RMLC’s filing dates back to November of 2016; GMR says that makes the evidence too old for consideration.

The case, Radio Music License Committee, Inc. v. Global Music Rights, LLC, is now stretching into its third year, with little resolution in sight.

The latest barbs surround allegations of ‘deliberate witness intimidation,’ specifically against Entercom Communications.  Specifically, RMLC is presenting emails from December of 2018 that indicate some bullying by GMR executives.  In the correspondence, GMR flatly refuses to license a new Entercom-powered streaming service based on Entercom’s support of the RMLC action.

GMR declined to offer the licenses “in light of RMLC’s pending antitrust litigation with Global Music Rights, and due to positions previously advanced by Entercom”.

That, according to RMLC, constitutes ‘deliberate witness intimidation,’ as it contains a direct threat for support and testimony in RMLC v. GMR.

RMLC further noted that GMR “dangled a carrot” in front of Entercom by opening the possibility of future licensing — that is, if circumstances change.  The subtext suggests that if Entercom backs off of its support for the RMLC action, critical licensing negotiations can resume.

Sounds damning, though GMR says it’s ‘irrelevant’ and simply too late to be entered as evidence.  “The court should reject RMLC’s last-minute attempt to squeeze in more irrelevant evidence,” GMR’s attorneys stated.

RMLC says the email is extremely relevant, and not the first time witness bullying has been discovered.

Back in 2016, GMR attempted to open a new theater of battle against RMLC in California, arguing that the RMLC is the one abusing antitrust law.   A judge denied that countersuit effort, however, given the pending litigation in Pennsylvania.