Music Modernization Act Enters Senate

After music and technology lobbyists hammered out a series of complicated compromises, Representatives combined several bills into the Music Modernization Act, which passed the House unanimously last month. Now that the legislation has been introduced in the Senate, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has introduced an alternative bill that could slow it down. Sen. Wyden introduced the Accessibility for Curators, Creators, Educators, Scholars, and Society (ACCESS) to Recordings Act, which would essentially federalize recordings made before 1972, which are currently covered under state law. This would allow rights holders and performers to collect royalties when their works are streamed online, which they currently can’t do. “Copyright reform for pre-1972 sound recordings must consider the interests of all stakeholders — not just those of the for-profit record labels. This has become a talking point of anti-copyright activists, who have characterized the Music Modernization Act as a copyright term extension — inaccurately. The MMA doesn’t “cure” is music’s compulsory license, a part of U.S. Copyright Act that dates to 1909, and basically requires that any third-party that wants to distribute commercially recorded music can do so, at rates ruled by the government. Also, any reform of pre-1972 recordings would help not only labels but performers, who are paid directly by SoudExchange when the works are transmitted digitally on interactive services like Pandora and SiriusXM. It has been suggested that any reduction in state law copyright protection would constitute a “taking,” and thus be unconstitutional. But this bill seems intended as a way to negotiate changes in the Music Modernization Act, so it’s unlikely that will ever be tested.

Source: Billboard

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