After publishing an Update attempting to clarify Global Media Rights (GMR) licensing of Christmas music, e.g., arrangements by GMR composers of Silent Night, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, etc. —  we received a number of responses asking for clarification. We also heard from officials in the music industry, including one Vice President from a major label who accused NRB of spreading “completely untrue, incorrect and misleading” information regarding GMR’s claim on certain arrangements.    

Randy Grimmett, CEO of GMR, also received a complaint from the VP of a major publishing concern, who forwarded him a copy of the Update and asked for a correction of the “misleading information.” We have been in discussions with GMR this past week and they have informed us of two important clarifications, as follows: (a) GMR has assured us that they have not and WILL NOT base an infringement action against any broadcaster airing a new arrangement of a holiday song that originated in the public domain to the extent that such airing occurred during calendar year 2017, and (b) GMR has promised to review each of the holiday songs listed in our initial Update to “determine the source” owner of each work and, if necessary, update and correct any needed records. 

It is our understanding that GMR has imported ownership records from BMI and ASCAP when certain artists  withdrew from these PROs and moved to GMR. There may well be inaccuracies in the imported data within some of these records that will require updating and correcting. This could be especially true In the matter of arrangements of works originally in the public domain like “Silent Night” or “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Additionally, there may be instances of arrangements being “re-arranged” and then copyrighted by a current artist/composer.

Our November 27 Update was an effort to educate you, to help you avoid a potential liability. GMR has assured us that they will not be going after anyone for an infringement action based solely on the performance of holiday songs in calendar year 2017 that originated in the public domain but may now be performed under a new arrangement. As a result, we can tell you to REJOICE! For it is once again safe for you to play Christmas music this year.