The Continuing Vitality of Music Performance Rights Organizations

34 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2008 Last revised: 28 Sep 2008

See all articles by Robert P. Merges

Robert P. Merges

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

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Date Written: June 11, 2008


Some commentators see the need for major changes in the legal and institutional framework surrounding the music industry. Some proposals call for revising or eliminating performing rights organizations (PROs), which have for many years now represented the interests of songwriters in their dealings with broadcasters and other companies that distribute music to the public. This paper argues that despite major changes in the technology and business of music distribution, the traditional allocation of IP rights to songwriters, and the continued existence of active PROs, remain vital and important features of the music industry. Separate copyrights for songwriters promote the continued viability of songwriting as an independent creative profession. And PROs are uniquely suited to represent songwriters in negotiations and dealings with other players in the music industry.

Suggested Citation

Merges, Robert P., The Continuing Vitality of Music Performance Rights Organizations (June 11, 2008). UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 1266870 . Available at SSRN: or

Robert P. Merges (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

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Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
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