The Justice Department announced on Thursday that it had concluded a two-year investigation into the complex world of music licensing and decided against making changes to the regulatory agreements that govern Ascap and BMI, two large clearinghouses for performing rights that process about $2 billion in royalty payments each year.

BMI quickly said it would challenge the decision in federal court, and Ascap said it would “explore legislative solutions” to the problems of music licensing in the digital age.

Let’s take a look at what happened and what it means.

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