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HOUSE APPROVES JUDICIARY COMMITTEE’S BIPARTISAN MUSIC LICENSING LEGISLATION

Apr 25, 2018

The House of Representatives today approved by a vote of 415-0 the Music Modernization Act (H.R. 5447), bipartisan legislation that updates several key provisions of U.S. copyright law regarding music licensing.  This consensus legislation is a product of the House Judiciary Committee’s comprehensive copyright review and was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Vice Chairman Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Ranking Member Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), former House Judiciary Committee Chairman and current Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Representative Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)

Below are statements from Judiciary Committee leaders on today’s House passage of the Music Modernization Act.

Chairman Goodlatte: “Music, along with the other copyright industries, has enriched our lives and expanded our cultural opportunities.  Today the House took a historic step toward ensuring the music industry can continue to flourish by modernizing our music copyright laws so music creators are fairly compensated for their works.  The Music Modernization Act, which is the first major update to our music licensing laws in decades, finally brings our music laws into the digital age. The Music Modernization Act is the product of endless amounts of hard work by stakeholders and many members of the House Judiciary Committee, as we reviewed our copyright laws to ensure they were keeping pace in the digital age.   I appreciate all the hard work of our Committee members, especially Representative Doug Collins, and I urge the Senate to quickly pass this important legislation so it can be sent to the President for his signature.” 

Ranking Member Nadler: “We are at a unique moment in time where virtually all the major industry stakeholders have come together in support of a common music policy agenda.  This is an historic opportunity to resolve some longstanding inequities in the music marketplace by helping digital services more efficiently license and distribute musical works, while ensuring artists, songwriters, and other music creators receive fair market value for their work. I am proud to support the Music Modernization Act, which will update the law to better serve both creators and digital music providers.”

IP Subcommittee Vice Chairman Collins: “Five years ago, songwriters showed me the unfairness that had been tucked into sections of American copyright law. While the U.S. Constitution made intellectual property protections an anchor of our economy, other parts of our laws ignore technological realities and undermine free market principles at the expense of music creators and music lovers. Today’s vote shows that the People’s House can mobilize on behalf of the people—their work ethic, their livelihoods and their creative spirit. By updating copyright laws for the digital age, the Music Modernization Act encourages Americans to keep producing the anthems that punctuate our lives. Now the Senate has the opportunity to prove what I know to be true, that both sides of the Capitol value American innovation and artistry.”  
 
Representative Jeffries: “Music is a universal language and one of the most powerful ways we communicate with each other. From the heart of Brooklyn to the fields of rural Georgia, a love of music has always brought Americans together. In an era of crisis and dysfunction in Washington, music has united Democrats and Republicans in Congress to collaborate on a groundbreaking piece of legislation. The Music Modernization Act will update our nation’s copyright system to keep pace with technology and ensure artists will continue to make a living while creating. As the House votes on the MMA today, I want to thank Rep. Doug Collins and colleagues on both sides for their partnership and leadership on this issue.”

IP Subcommittee Chairman Issa: “The legislation passed out of the House today represents a fresh, new era for the music industry. Many of the complexities that created business uncertainty for both creators and distributors of music are solved by the Music Modernization Act. Stakeholders from across the industry – including record labels and publishers, both small and large, and digital services such as Spotify and Pandora – should be applauded for their tireless efforts to find common ground. Most importantly to me, the CLASSICS Act, which I authored, is included in this package. It corrects a decades old injustice through which performers have been arbitrarily deprived of royalties on songs recorded prior to 1972. While there is work still to be done – including correcting the lack of a terrestrial performance royalty – this legislation is tremendous progress and I am thrilled to have been a part of the process.”

IP Subcommittee Ranking Member Johnson: “The Music Modernization Act will be one of the most meaningful updates to music copyright law in decades.  The bill is a compromise among many stakeholders and will benefit artists, producers, record labels, consumers, and the entire music marketplace.  I am glad that the bill passed the House and hope that it will be quickly enacted into law.”

Chairman Smith: “The passage of the Music Modernization Act is historic. The legislation updates our music licensing laws to ensure that music creators receive fair compensation for their work and that digital music services have an efficient licensing system to deliver music on the most up-to-date technology. Music lovers continue to enjoy their favorite songs.”  

Representative Deutch: “This is an historic vote that will help modernize our outdated copyright laws.  Today’s passage sends a meaningful message to all of the musicians, songwriters, producers, and other hardworking music makers that our laws should fairly reflect their hard work. I urge my Senate colleagues to move swiftly on this legislation, and let’s get this done.”

Key Provisions of the Music Modernization Act include:

Title I – Music Modernization Act 

  • Reflects how modern digital music services operate by creating a blanket licensing system to quickly license and pay for musical work copyrights
  • Discourages music litigation that generates legal settlements in favor of simply ensuring that artists and copyright owners are paid in the first place without such litigation
  • Ends the flawed U.S. Copyright Office bulk notice of intent system that allows royalties to not be paid
  • Implements uniform rate setting standards to be used by the Copyright Royalty Board for all music services
  • Shifts the costs of the new licensing collective created by the bill to those who benefit from the collective - the licensees
  • Updates how certain rate court cases are assigned in the Southern District of New York

Title II -- Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society (CLASSICS) Act 

  • Provides that performers who recorded songs before 1972 can finally be paid for their works (currently, only performers who recorded songs after 1972 are paid for their works)

Title III -- Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act 

  • Ensures that record producers, sound engineers, and other creative professionals receive compensation for their work

More information on the House Judiciary Committee’s copyright review can be found here.

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115th Congress