US passes Bill on Music Licensing to update copyright law for music industry

The Music Modernization Act was unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that would create a licensing process for streaming services such as Spotify, in a move to update copyright law for the modern music industry.

The bill, HR 5477, enjoys broad bipartisan support with Republicans accounting for 227 of Wednesday’s yea votes in the House and Democrats for 188, suggesting it will likely fare well in the Senate.

The MMA legislation was created by compromise among all interested parties, including digital services, music publishers, songwriters, artists and radio, as well as producers and engineers. It packages together a number of different bills impacting how digital services license music from publishers and how songwriters get paid, extends federal copyright performance rights to master recordings made before 1972 when it comes digital radio play and codifies into law for music producers and engineers’ direct payment by SoundExchange for due royalties.

“The Music Modernization Act is a great step forward, bringing greater transparency through a blanket license, which is critical to a modern, efficient licensing system,” said Digital Media Association CEO Chris Harrison in a statement, adding that they would work with the sponsors in the Senate to make sure the legislation is signed into law. “Digital streaming services have saved the music industry, delivering consumers better experiences and better value, and growing revenue for creators. The MMA will ensure fans and artists can take full advantage of streaming to create, discover, and enjoy the music they love. The music industry is streaming forward and we will continue to work with Congress to enable the industry to move away from the music mess of the past.”

For publishers and songwriters, the legislation also ensures that royalties paid for recordings can also be considered when rate court judges are determining rates. Those rate court judges will rotate among the federal judges in the Southern District of New York.