A bipartisan pair of Congress people—Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hackeem Jeffries (D-NY)—have introduced in the House of Representatives a new measure called the Music Modernization Act (HR 4706). The bill seeks to reform Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act to create a single licensing entity that administers the mechanical reproduction rights for all digital uses of music composition. It also reforms Section 114, to improve the rate court process for ASCAP and BMI. Under this new act, the system would ensure that songwriters are paid equitably when digital music services use their work.
The heads of most of the organizations that represent musicians and composers—the National Music Publishers Association, ASCAP, BMI, the Nashville Songwriters Association International, and Songwriters of North America—issued a statement saying, “We strongly support the introduction of the Music Modernization Act, which represents months of collaboration and compromise between the songwriting and tech industries. This legislation enables digital music companies to find the owners of the music they use and reforms the rate setting process for performing rights, ensuring that songwriters and music publishers are paid faster and more fairly than ever before.”
The NAB issued a more tempered assessment, however; according to Executive Vice President/Communications Dennis Wharton, “NAB appreciates the constructive efforts of Representatives Collins and Jeffries, as well as industry stakeholders, on the issues addressed by the Music Modernization Act. The bill is an important step toward resolving critical issues faced by songwriters, music publishers, and on-demand streaming services to the benefit of both parties. However, NAB has serious concerns about unrelated provisions in the bill that may unjustifiably increase costs for many music licensees, including local radio and television broadcasters, who otherwise receive no benefit from the legislation. NAB looks forward to working with the bill sponsors and impacted parties to resolve our outstanding concerns.”