Music Modernization Act Unanimously Passes the Senate

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Music Modernization Act Unanimously Passes the Senate

On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed the bi-partisan Music Modernization Act (MMA), renaming it the Orrin G. Hatch Music Modernization Act after the senator who championed the bill.

The bill, co-sponsored by more than 80 senators, proposes three major changes to how music copyright is currently handed under federal law and has the aim of adapting copyright to the age of digital streaming. Many on the side of music creation have advocated for the changes proposed in the bill.

The MMA aims to change Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act, now creating a single entity through which all mechanical reproduction rights for digital uses of music compositions (read: the licenses used for interactive streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify) would be administered. It also sets out to repeal Section 114(i) of the U.S. Copyright Act, which deals with how judges are assigned in royalty rate-setting cases.

Through the inclusion of the AMP Act, the MMA adds record producers and engineers to U.S. copyright law. This means that, for the first time, there would be a codified right for producers to collect digital royalties, as well as a uniform process for studio professionals to receive royalties for their role in music creation.

Finally, the CLASSICS Act changes how royalties are paid on pre-1972 recordings, which previously earned no royalties when said recordings were played by digital radio services such as SiriusXM. The bill would set up royalty payments for these recordings through SoundExchange, a move that has been highly protested by Sirius. The satellite radio service held up the process of passing the bill until Monday, when 150 artists and music industry executives threatened to boycott the service if it continued to interrupt the bill.

Because the Senate did make changes to the bill, it has to return to the House of Representatives, pass, and then be signed by the president. However, because a similar, former version of the bill was passed unanimously by the House in April, those following the bill’s progression are hopeful following the success in the Senate.

A plethora of music industry executives have spoken out celebrating the MMA’s progress.

“Today’s unanimous passage of the Music Modernization Act in the Senate represents a Herculean industry-wide effort to promote and celebrate songwriters and ensure their right to a sustainable livelihood,” said Elizabeth Matthews, CEO of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), in a statement. “We applaud Senators Hatch, Alexander, Grassley, Feinstein, Whitehouse, Coons and the entire Senate for recognizing the value music has in both society and our hearts.”

“American songwriters work tirelessly behind the scenes to create the music that fans all over the world enjoy. Today, we made history by joining together and working for Senate passage of the Music Modernization Act, bringing us one step closer to a music licensing framework that reflects how people listen to music today,” added Paul Williams, president of ASCAP. “We urge the House of Representatives to swiftly pass the Senate bill, so the President can sign it into law and music creators can begin to see the benefits of this critical reform.”

SoundExchange, the entity directly written in to the CLASSICS Act, also issued a statement on Tuesday’s victory.

“The Music Modernization Act proves what can happen when constructive industry leaders work together towards a greater good … The outcome of this collaboration is a law that sets a new framework to guide the future of the music industry,” said Michael Huppe, CEO and president of SoundExchange, in a “statement”: “There are still issues regarding creator fairness that we need to address, but today we celebrate a new era of cooperation and progress across the industry.”

These are just a few of the many responses to the MMA’s victory. You can check out a few more social media reactions below.

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