WASHINGTON D.C. (CelebrityAccess) — An expanded Music Modernization Act sailed through a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives with unanimous support on Wednesday, a key legislative hurdle for the first major music copyright reform bill in decades on its way to becoming law.
The bill received widespread support from music industry stakeholders, who viewed the legislation as a vital step in modernizing the arcane world of music licensing and digital royalties for the compensation of rightsholders.
“The House passage of the Music Modernization Act is truly historic for songwriters and the entire music ecosystem which they fuel,” said National Music Publishers Association President & CEO David Israelite. “The MMA improves how songwriters are paid and how their work is valued, both of which are long overdue.”
“This is an historic day for music creators. Today’s overwhelming support in the House for the Music Modernization Act reflects the bill’s widespread consensus, both across the aisle and across the music industry. This legislation stands to benefit artists, songwriters, labels, publishers, studio producers and others – many of whom are represented by the SoundExchange Companies,” SoundExchange’s Michael Huppe said. “The Music Modernization Act includes provisions SoundExchange has advocated for over many years, as we work to advance fair treatment for all creators involved in bringing our music to life.
The bipartisan legislation was put forth last year with support from key lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York. The expanded bill included provisions from four earlier pieces of legislation, including the Music Modernization Act, the CLASSICS Act, the AMP Act, and the Fair Play Fair Pay Act.
Key portions of the legislation:
The Music Modernization Act (H.R. 4706, S. 2334): A substantial reform to music copyright law that will change both how, and how much songwriters are paid. The bill updates Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act to create a single licensing entity that administers the mechanical reproduction rights for digital uses of musical compositions, such as those used by music streamers like Spotify, Amazon, and Apple. The bill also repeals Section 114(i) and, consistent with most federal litigation, utilizes random assignment of judges to decide ASCAP and BMI rate-setting cases.
The CLASSICS Act (H.R. 3301, S. 2393): Will change the current royalty system for recordings made before 1972. Currently, artists who recorded music before 1972 are not entitled to be paid royalties under federal copyright law when their music is played on the digital radio, leaving them out of the music streaming bonanza. The CLASSICS Act will bring those recordings into parity with modern recordings. However, some observers, including the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, a digital civil rights advocacy, took issue with the measure, suggesting that it creates a psuedo copyright system that creates new royalties and gives nothing back to the public.
The AMP Act (H.R. 881, S. 2625) improves and simplifies the payment of royalties owed to music producers, mixers, and engineers by allowing royalty collection/distribution organization SoundExchange to directly pay studio creatives.
Market-Based Rate Standard For Statutory Licenses. The new bill would require a market-based rate standard for sound recordings for statutory licenses. This provision would allow the Copyright Royalty Board which sets rates for statutory services to consider the rates and terms that would have been negotiated in the marketplace between a willing buyer and a willing seller.
The bill will next move to the U.S. Senate for consideration, where it seems likely to pass in the coming weeks before going on to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.