Washington, D.C. — 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.) today introduced the Music Modernization Act (H.R. 5447), a consensus music licensing bill. This legislation, which is the product of the House Judiciary Committee’s comprehensive copyright review, is designed to significantly update several key provisions of U.S. copyright law regarding music licensing. Much of the current licensing system was established in an analog song-by-song era using compulsory licenses first established in 1909.
The House Judiciary Committee will mark up the Music Modernization Act on Wednesday, April 11.
Below are statements from House Judiciary Committee leaders on the introduction of the Music Modernization Act.
Chairman Goodlatte: “Our nation’s copyright laws, and the exclusive rights they grant to artists and creators, have made the U.S. the world leader in creativity. However, there is little doubt that our copyright system faces new challenges today. One of the top priorities of my chairmanship has been to conduct a wide review of our nation’s copyright laws to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age.
“I am pleased that after extensive discussions between members and interested stakeholders we have produced a legislative package that will make important and long overdue updates to our copyright laws to ensure American music creators are properly recognized and rewarded for their works. The Music Modernization Act, which is the first major update to our music licensing laws in decades, is vital to promoting American creativity and innovation in the digital age.”
Ranking Member Nadler: “Because of inadequacies and loopholes in the law, there has been litigation in federal and state courts on a variety of fronts with mixed results. This has put music creators’ rights at risk, and created uncertainty for digital streaming services. It is in everyone’s interest to come together to finally make some improvements to the Copyright Act, and that is why today’s bill is supported by a broad coalition that includes, but is certainly not limited to, the Internet Association, SAG-AFTRA and AFM, the National Music Publishers Association, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Recording Academy, Nashville Songwriters Association International, ASCAP and BMI, C3, A2IM, Songwriters Guild of America, Songwriters of North America, SoundExchange, and the Digital Media Association and its member companies such as Pandora, Spotify and Amazon. This is an unprecedented level of consensus that hopefully marks a new era of collaboration. Like any compromise, this bill is not perfect, but it is a major improvement over current law. We are about to accomplish something that hasn’t been done in decades, and I congratulate all of the parties for coming together.”
IP Subcommittee Vice Chairman Collins: “The Music Modernization Act introduced today would update laws designed to govern music rights in the pre-digital age with policy that promotes creativity and leverages market forces for the mutual benefit of music creators, providers and consumers alike. This legislation takes critical steps forward for the entire music ecosystem, and I’m particularly proud that it makes the playing field more level for songwriters. I’m grateful for Chairman Goodlatte’s leadership in prioritizing copyright reform and look forward to helping the Judiciary Committee send the most significant music licensing updates in a generation to the House for its consideration.”
Representative Jeffries: “Our nation’s copyright system has lagged behind new technology for too long. The Music Modernization Act will make key improvements to the music licensing process, giving artists access to more royalties and streaming companies more transparency and efficiency. Rep. Collins and I have worked hard together to push copyright law into the 21st century, and I am proud that the Judiciary Committee is moving forward with this bill.”
IP Subcommittee Chairman Issa: “This legislation will bring music licensing into sync with the 21st century. For too long, our copyright laws have lagged behind the realities facing the music industry. This package of bills represents hard-fought compromises between the digital providers of music and the content creators. Among its most important features, the package includes my bill, the CLASSICS Act, which will ensure due compensation to legacy artists and provide business certainty to streaming services. I applaud Chairman Goodlatte, Representative Collins and the others who have been instrumental in getting us near the finish line.”
IP Subcommittee Ranking Member Johnson: “I am pleased to work on this bipartisan music licensing bill with Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Nadler, Congressman Jeffries, and my colleague from Georgia, Congressman Collins. This bill will help to bring music copyright law into the 21st century and benefit artists, producers, record labels, and digital streaming services. I am proud to support the bill because it will help songwriters who create the songs we all love. The bill is a compromise among many stakeholders in the music industry and will be one of the most meaningful updates to music copyright law in decades.”
Chairman Smith: “The Music Modernization Act is a historic bill. It updates our music licensing laws to ensure that music creators receive fair compensation for their work, digital music services have an efficient licensing system to deliver music on the most up-to-date technology, and music lovers continue to enjoy their favorite songs. I commend my colleagues and industry stakeholders for their efforts to reach this bipartisan consensus.”
Representative Deutch: “As someone who cares deeply, and personally, about music and the incredible people who make it, I feel privileged to help update our copyright laws. We need to modernize the system and allow everyone to benefit from the amazing artists of yesterday and today and the innovative technologies that bring them into our lives. This bill makes notable steps toward fairness and 21st Century sophistication in our copyright laws.”
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 a public performance right for pre-1972 recordings
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.