By Carla Vercellone
The “Big Music Bill”, also referred to as the Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act, the Music Modernization Act (‘MMA’) or the Musical Works Modernization Act, is a piece of legislation that was introduced by Senator Hatch (R-Utah) and Senator Alexander (R-Tennessee) earlier this year. It was passed unanimously by both chambers this past month of September and was sent to President Trump’s office on September 25th , giving him 10 days to sign the bill after receiving it, or veto it, and turn it into law. If he chooses not to sign the bill within these 10 days (including weekends), and Congress is in session, the bill will automatically become law.
This act is a reform to the Copyright Act of 1976 §115 and §114 (i). The bill aims to solve the current problem of unmatched works, so that digital music providers are protected from liability and songwriters are given the royalties they deserve (more on the topic of unmatched works in an upcoming post). Second, the bill will better align royalties for songwriters with royalties for recording artists, and with market demand it will bring transparency to the music licensing system by creating a public database that identifies musical works and their owners. Third, it will create an organization responsible to create said database, to collect and to distribute royalty payments starting in 2021. And lastly, creators of songs recorded prior to 1972 will be paid royalties as well. This bill protects streaming services (such as Spotify, Apple, Pandora, Amazon, or Google) from being sued by artists or producers for licensing violations that occurred prior to this Act, while also holding them accountable for their obligations.
“It’s the most important piece of legislation in a generation to help make sure songwriters in this country are paid a fair market value for their work,” co-creator Senator Alexander said during the introduction of the bill to the Senate earlier this year.
Both senators introducing the bill are songwriters and Senator Hatch even has a platinum record, a gold record and another one on the way to potentially becoming gold. This bill has had very strong bipartisan support in both chambers even though the version that passed in the Senate last week differed from the version that passed in the House back in April, but the House agreed to take up the bill as amended by the Senate, and it’s expected to be signed by President Trump.
You can check out some reactions on the progress of this bill, below.
To read the entire bill, click here
UPDATE [10/11/2018]: President Trump has signed the Music Modernization Act into law today.
- Staff, Variety. “Music Modernization Act Heads To President Trump For Signature”. Variety, 2018, https://variety.com/2018/music/news/music-modernization-act-president-trump-signature-1202957780/.
- Duggan, Wayne. “The Music Modernization Act, Explained”. MSN, 2018, https://www.msn.com/en-us/finance/news/the-music-modernization-act-explained/ar-BBNDk0K.