Music Modernization Act Unanimously Passes The House

The_U.S._Capitol_Building,_Washington,_D.CThe Music Modernization Act is getting closer to becoming the law of the land as the bill was unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday (April 25), with 415 voting in favor and 16 representatives not voting. It now goes to the Senate for the final vote, then must be signed by President Trump before it can become law.

As stated in a previous post, the Music Modernization Act is actually a package of bills that all pertain to music. These include:

• The Music Modernization Act, which reforms Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act to create a single licensing body that administers the mechanical reproduction rights for all digital uses of musical compositions. This covers those used in interactive streaming models offered by Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, Google, and others. The Act also repeals Section 114(i) and establishes a random assignment of judges to decide ASCAP and BMI rate-setting cases.

• The CLASSICS Act (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act) benefits artists and music creators who recorded music before 1972 by establishing royalty payments whenever their music is played on digital radio. SoundExchange would distribute royalties for pre-1972 recordings played by Internet, cable, and satellite radio services just as it does for post-1972 recordings. Currently only sound recordings made after 1972 receive payments from digital radio services under federal law.

• The AMP Act (Allocation for Music Producers Act) adds producers and engineers to U.S. copyright law for the first time. The bill codifies into law the producer’s right to collect digital royalties and provides a consistent, permanent process for studio professionals to receive royalties for their contributions to the creation of music.

According to Variety, “Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) noted  that the bill “doesn’t address everything” – notably omitting performer payment for radio airplay – but stresses it makes significant improvements. Co-sponsor Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) summed up those improvements in four specific areas, saying it will:

  • Improve a dysfunctional mechanical licensing system “that seems to generate more paperwork and attorneys’ fees than royalties.”
  • Ensure royalty protection for pre-1972 performances
  • Provide a statutory right to recognition for adjunct creators, including producers, sound engineers, and mixers
  • lack of a unified rate standard for music royalties”

Considering that the bill was well-received by members of both parties, it’s reasonable to believe that it should have little trouble passing the Senate. There is no timetable for when the Senate will take up the issue however, but observers expect it to be sometime this year.

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