The Times They Are a-Changin’

Current Events, Law, Popular Culture, Searching
Lauren Mattiuzzo

Kid Rock, the Beach Boys and Mike Love were among some of the musicians who joined President Donald Trump at the signing ceremony earlier this month for the Music Modernization Act (MMA). This bill was unanimously passed through the House and Senate prior to reaching the President’s desk. MMA was designed to fix copyright issues revolving around digital steaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora. The new digital wave of streaming made music more accessible; however, artists were losing out on revenue because of this new technology. MMA revamps Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act and is a combination of three bills previously introduced in Congress. Let’s take a look at the three bills, that were ultimately combined into one.

Music Modernization Act

This bill contains three major provisions:

  1. A non-profit governing agency will be created to establish royalty rates used to pay the composers and songwriters if their music is streamed. This relates only to the copyright which covers the composition and lyrics of a song. The royalty will be paid to the non-profit agency, who in turn will pay the mechanical license holder.
  2. Payments will be made to mechanical license holders if a song is reproduced digitally or physically.
  3. A new court process will be put in place to handle any disagreements over royalties.
Classics Act

Previous copyright law left any recordings of songs prior to February 15, 1972 up to individual states to pass laws for recording protection. Now, all recordings made between 1923 and February 1972 are covered by some period of copyright until February 15, 2067. Recordings prior to 1923 will enter into public domain in three years.

Allocation for Music Producers Act

SoundExchange, a non-profit organization established by Congress to distribute royalties on sound recordings, will now also distribute part of the royalties to a producer, mixer, or sound engineer who helped create the recording.

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