After a five-year review of U.S. copyright law, the House Judiciary Committee has introduced the Music Modernization Act. The Act will combine previously introduced legislation and reform music licensing laws. The goal is to reward creativity and encourage real innovation in the digital age. This new legislation should have very little impact on radio. Here are the key provisions in the legislation:
- The Act creates a blanket licensing system to quickly license and pay for musical work copyrights. It discourages music litigation that generates legal settlements in favor of simply ensuring that artists and copyright owners are paid in the first place without such litigation.
- Ends the flawed U.S. Copyright Office bulk notice of intent system that allows royalties to not be paid.
- Implements uniform rate-setting standards to be used by the Copyright Royalty Board for all music services.
- Shifts the costs of the new licensing collective created by the bill to the licensees.
- Updates how certain rate court cases are assigned in the Southern District of New York.
- The Act also provides a public performance right for pre-1972 recordings.
- And the Act ensures that record producers, sound engineers, and other creative professionals receive compensation for their work.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said there is little doubt our copyright system faces new challenges today. “One of the top priorities of my chairmanship has been to conduct a wide review of our nation’s copyright laws to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age. I am pleased that after extensive discussions between members and interested stakeholders, we have produced a legislative package that will make important and long overdue updates to our copyright laws to ensure American music creators are properly recognized and rewarded for their works. The Music Modernization Act, which is the first major update to our music licensing laws in decades, is vital to promoting American creativity and innovation in the digital age.”
Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler said, because of loopholes in the law, there has been litigation in federal and state courts with mixed results, and that has put music creators’ rights at risk and created uncertainty for digital streaming services. “It is in everyone’s interest to come together to finally make some improvements to the Copyright Act, and that is why today’s bill is supported by a broad coalition that includes, but is certainly not limited to, the Internet Association, SAG-AFTRA and AFM, the National Music Publishers Association, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Recording Academy, Nashville Songwriters Association International, ASCAP and BMI, C3, A2IM, Songwriters Guild of America, Songwriters of North America, SoundExchange, and the Digital Media Association and its member companies such as Pandora, Spotify, and Amazon. This is an unprecedented level of consensus that hopefully marks a new era of collaboration. Like any compromise, this bill is not perfect, but it is a major improvement over current law. We are about to accomplish something that hasn’t been done in decades, and I congratulate all of the parties for coming together.”
Following the introduction of the Act, NAB CEO Gordon Smith said the Music Modernization Act represents a level of compromise and consensus on music licensing issues that has eluded lawmakers for decades. “The bill addresses some of the core issues facing songwriters, recording artists, producers, music publishers, record labels, and streaming services to the benefit of the entire music ecosystem. In particular, NAB thanks Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Nadler, and Representatives Collins, Jeffries, and Issa, who worked diligently to ensure that free, local, over-the-air broadcasters would not be harmed by this legislation.”
The Content Creators Coalition said it was a momentous day for musicians, songwriters, and everyone who loves music, however, they still took a jab at radio. “For the first time in 20 years, there is real momentum in Congress to pass legislation that will help ensure that artists and songwriters are treated fairly while also ensuring that fans have access to the music they love. The legislation ensures fair pay for older artists, better pay for all performers when music is played on SiriusXM, and moves forward with critical reforms to help songwriters. It will make the music ecosystem stronger and fairer. While we have proposed ways that the legislation can be improved, and it doesn’t include some necessary pro-artist reforms – those that would empower artists to fight back against platform monopoly abuses by updating the DMCA or level the playing field with an AM/FM performance right – neither our enthusiasm in support of this legislation nor our fight for those reforms will diminish.”
You can read all 153 pages of the proposed legislation HERE.