Is Copyright Law finally catching up to the digital era?

Originally posted 2018-11-19 11:19:07

By Danielle Sule | Edited by Alana Ballantyne

The Music Modernization Act (MMA) has been signed into law. It was unanimously supported in both the house and the Senate and signed into law on October 11, 2018. This act is the biggest change to music legislation in over 40 years!

The MMA attempts to modernize Section 115 of the US Copyright Act What exactly does the bill do? It brings together three main parts of the legislation. The Music Modernization Act, the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Services, & Important Contributions to Society Act (aka CLASSICS), and the Allocation for music Producers (AMP) Act.

So what do they hope to do? Well, the MMA is set to streamline the process to get music-licensing. Music licensing is the authorized use of copyrighted music. It ensures that the rightful copyright owners of music are compensated for agreed upon use of their work. A purchaser of a music license may be limited to the use of the work without a separate agreement.  The presence of a music license makes it easier for artists or rights holders, to get paid whenever their songs are streamed online. The CLASSICS Act closes the so-called “pre-1972” loophole, enabling artists and songwriters to receive royalties even if the songs were recorded before 1972. Lastly, with the AMP Act, we see producers mentioned in copyright for the first time ever. The AMP act sets out improvements to royalty payouts to both producers and sound engineers.

This all sounds great, but also pricey. Having to create and maintain a database to track and ensure proper payment cannot be cheap. Well, digital streaming services will be covering this cost. How else are digital services taking a pay cut? They no longer will receive the unclaimed royalties that digital service provider uses to hold. The act will take all those royalties that are unclaimed and will provide a legal process to ensure the music professionals receive them. The new bill is not expected to impact consumer’s monthly streaming bill. While streaming services expect to see a major impact on themselves, consumers should not. Supporters of the bill view the new legislation as a great change for both consumers and artists.

Has Copyright Law finally caught up to the digital era? It seems like it at least trying to catch up in music copyright. Now we’ll just have to sit back and see the long process ahead to implement the new bill.



The Music Modernization Act has been Signed into law

The Music Modernization Act: What Is It & Why Does It Matter?

Music Modernization Act Passes in Senate With Unanimous Support


Money for Something: Music Licensing in the 21st Century


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