The Music Modernization Act

The Music Modernization Act

After undertaking a thorough review of the Copyright Act during his tenure as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced comprehensive music licensing reform legislation (H.R.5447) with Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on April 10, 2018. On April 11, 2018, the House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously (32-0) to approve the legislation and on April 25, 2018 the full House voted unanimously (415-0) to pass the legislation.

On May 10, 2018, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Senate version of the Music Modernization Act (S.2823).

The Music Modernization Act is a bipartisan package that incorporates several pieces of consensus legislation.

Background

The bill includes the CLASSICS Act (H.R.3301/S.2393), the AMP Act (H.R.881/S.2625) and rate standard parity provisions from the Fair Play Fair Pay Act (H.R.1836) and would:

  1. Close the pre-72 loophole by establishing federal copyright protection that will guarantee compensation for artists who recorded music before February 15, 1972;
  2. Codify SoundExchange’s longtime practice of honoring “Letters of Direction” from artists who want to share royalties with studio producers and other creative participants who work with them;
  3. Create a new process that will allow eligible participants in recordings made before the digital performance right was enacted in 1995 to share in digital royalties for those recordings; and
  4. Establish a “willing buyer, willing seller” rate standard that will require all digital platforms to pay fair market value for music.

The bill also reflects elements from the previously introduced Music Modernization Act (H.R.4706/S.2334) and would:

  1. Reform Section 115 to ensure songwriters are being compensated in a timely manner by ending the bulk Notice of Intent (NOI) process, creating a single Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) funded by the digital services, and providing a publicly accessible database for song ownership information; and
  2. Repeal Section 114(i) which will allow courts setting public performance royalty rates to consider rates for sound recording royalties.

SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe issued a statement on the introduction of the Music Modernization Act that you can read here.