A bipartisan group of U.S. led by US Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have introduced The Music Modernization Act, a major music reform package similar to legislation which recently passed recently on a the U.S. House 415 -0 vote.
While a few had lobbied for changes in the Senate version, The Music Modernization Act closely mimics the House version which will bring outdated music licensing laws into the 21st century. Like the House, today's bill combines the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society (CLASSICS) Act and the Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act. [Highlights of each bill below.]
While it has its critics, the bill introduced today has strong support across the music industry and trade groups representing record labels, artists, producers, songwriters and music publishers, as well as the major digital music companies.
“Today’s introduction is an important step toward enacting historic reform for our badly outdated music laws,” Hatch said. “For far too long, our old-fashioned, disorganized way of collecting and distributing music royalties has resulted in songwriters and other content creators being paid far too little for their work. It’s also exposed digital music companies to significant liability and created overall uncertainty in the music marketplace. "
“Though the way we listen to music may change over time, the lasting mark music creators from all generations leave with us does not,” Grassley said. “This broadly bipartisan package ensures that all music creators have the access to the royalties they’ve earned and that music lovers can better access these works of art."
Highlights of today's legislation:
Music Modernization Act (MMA):
The MMA creates a new, simplified licensing system to make it easier for digital music companies to obtain a license for songs.
The simplified system will also ensure songwriters are paid the royalties they are owed.
In addition, the bill revises outdated songwriter royalty standards to ensure songwriters are paid a fair market rate for their work.
Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society (CLASSICS) Act:
In the 1970s, Congress extended federal copyright protections to sound recordings fixed after February 1972.
The CLASSICS Act requires digital music services to pay for the use of pre-1972 sound recordings in the same way and at the same rate they pay for recordings fixed after 1972.
SoundExchange, the entity that collects and distributes digital performance royalties for sound recordings, will collect royalties for pre-1972 recordings, as it does for recordings made after 1972.
Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act:
Under current law, although recording artists have a right to a percentage of the royalties collected for digital performances of sound recordings, producers and engineers have no such right.
The AMP Act would establish a procedure for producers and engineers who worked on sound recordings to apply for a share of the royalties.