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BLOCK LICENSE

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Also called a "blanket license," it is an all encompassing multiple use license, e.g., a license that enables the licensee to use an entire catalog of songs for an unlimited number of times over a designated period of time (e.g., one year). However, the fee charged for this type of license would normally increase relative to the typical number of uses and to the size of the listening audience.

One normal use of a block license is its issuing by a performance rights society to a user of its song catalog for live performances. Such user licensees might be radio stations and television networks (for broadcast music). Other blanket licensees called "general licenses" are issued to concert venues, malls, hotels, office buildings (elevator music), and night clubs (for live performance of bands). Note that it is the venue owner or producer that pays for the license and not the actual performer of the music. For example, in a night club the club owner would secure the license and not the band that will actually perform the music. Also a venue may need more than one type of license (e.g., one for the live performance of bands and another for jukebox performance) and they may also need a license from more than one issuer (e.g., for different song catalogs from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC).

As can be seen, in the music industry, there are several different types of block licenses and several different licensors that issue such licenses. The actual fees charged will vary and the ways they are determined can be complex (e.g., evaluating one radio station vs. another). The potential user must contact the licensor to determine the correct and current fees.

The practice of blanket licensing by performance rights societies has been held up in the courts even though it smacks of being a monopoly. Some would hold that they should be allowed to directly negotiate source licenses from the music publisher or copyright owner. Since this would highly complicate and increase the accounting for most users, blanket licensing is seen by the courts as the best solution to the overall problem. However, depending on future litigation, this practice could be modified by the courts to try to create a better balance between all parties concerned.

See Cross-links: MUSIC PUBLISHER, PERFORMANCE RIGHTS SOCIETY, PERFORMANCE LICENSE FEE, PERFORMANCE ROYALTY, CONCERT.

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