Virtually everyone in the music business breathed a sigh of relief when the Music Modernization Act sailed through the House of Representatives recently. Finally it looked like we were making some headway towards changing at least a few outdated copyright laws. When it comes to Washington however, nothing is as easy as it seems as a new alternative bill has been introduced in the Senate with the potential to muddy the waters and slow passage of either bill down.
The new legislation introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is called the Accessibility for Curators, Creators, Educators, Scholars, and Society (ACCESS) to Recordings Act.
What it does is take all recordings made before 1972 and place them under federal law instead of state law so rights holders and performers can collect royalties when their works are streamed online, which they currently can’t do. The Music Modernization Act essentially does the same thing but keeps the recordings covered by state law.
“Copyright reform for pre-1972 sound recordings must consider the interests of all stakeholders — not just those of the for-profit record labels,” Sen. Wyden said in a statement. This has become a talking point of anti-copyright activists, who have characterized the Music Modernization Act as a copyright term extension — inaccurately. Also, any reform of pre-1972 recordings would help not only labels but performers, who are paid directly by SoundExchange when the works are transmitted digitally on interactive services like Pandora and SiriusXM.”
The ACCESS bill may be better for writers and performers of some legendary songs and libraries containing those songs, but it doesn’t do much for modern content creators except slow reform down, plus there seems to be a constitutional issue involved that can mean what looked like a slam dunk passage may instead be drawn out for a long time to come. Washington to the rescue yet once again.