It’s been a very long road but the Music Modernization Act (MMA) was finally signed into law by the President yesterday after the bill was previously unanimously approved by both the House and the Senate. Congratulations to all the industry organizations that put major effort into making this a reality!
The new law helps not only artists and songwriters, but for the first time producers and engineers as well. Briefly, here’s what it does:
• The MMA creates a Mechanical Licensing Collective that offers digital streaming services a blanket license in return for improved payments to songwriters and copyright holders
• It improves the rate standard and the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, which means that songwriters should get paid more.
• It provides a means for artists to get paid for their pre-1972 recordings that are played on satellite and digital radio.
• It creates a process for producers and engineers to receive a small royalty on streams.
One of the big problems is that many of the laws that govern copyright were created back before the digital era (in some cases way back), and what worked well back then no longer applies in our current streaming world. The MMA goes at least some of the way to correcting that, but there’s still some ways to go.
One big issue that still remains is currently being addressed in Europe and that’s the way YouTube deals with copyrighted material. Today it’s not responsible if you upload a piece of audio or video content that you don’t own. When that happens, the copyright holder can have your video taken down or attach advertising to it, but he has to find it first. YouTube bears no responsibility under what’s known as the “Fair Use” provision of copyright law.
The EU is now taking a close look at Fair Use, and may rule that YouTube and other streaming services are totally responsible for any copyright violation, which would definitely affect the streaming world in a big way. That doesn’t mean that any ruling they make will be followed by a similar one in the US though.
That said, with the Music Modernization Act finally in place, today is a good day for everyone in the music business that’s been a very long time coming.