Music Modernization Act Signed into Law

By Jeffrey E. Jacobson, Esq.

Congress recently passed the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act, which the President signed into law on October 11, 2018. This act, otherwise known as the MMA, creates a new governing body jointly run by music publishing companies.  This new entity will administer the mechanical licensing of musical compositions for use by streaming services.  For example, digital streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music will obtain its licenses from this organization. There will also be a newly created database to facilitate the easier licensing of music for streaming services. In the past, The Harry Fox Agency nearly exclusively handled these types of licensing matters.

This act marks one of the most significant music related legislative changes in recent memory. The new nonprofit mechanical licensing collective agency will administer and issue new blanket statutory licenses for digital reproduction of works. They are modeling this new society based on the digital licensing organization, SoundExchange.

The MMA will have major implications on the music licensing landscape, as the need to reform copyright law in music had already been widely acknowledged.  Specifically, due to the 1972 Sound Recording Amendment, there was a lack of harmony between the applicable payment schedules for pre and post 1972 recordings. This disproportionately impacted legacy artists and as a result, the MMA now permits pre-1972 recordings to receive the same benefits as copyright owners of post-1972 recordings. This means that such owners can now make use of limitations and exceptions to those remedies as well.

In addition to addressing older concerns, the MMA also attempts to tackle more modern issues associated with licensing. Producers, mixers, and engineers will now start to receive compensation from royalties collected from the use of sound recordings directly from SoundExchange.

Next, the Copyright Office will be focused on implementing its new duties required under the MMA legislation as well as continuing outreach activities to help interested members of the public and music community understand the major changes that result from this new legislation.

The MMA in theory sounds great; although, further investigation and development will be necessary to see how this all turns out.

© 2018 The Jacobson Firm, P.C.

About the author

Justin M. Jacobson, Esq. - Vice-President, The Jacobson Firm, P.C. - Attorney Specializing in Entertainment, Sports, Esports, Fashion and Art Law. In particular, The Jacobson Firm, P.C. handles Trademarks, Copyrights, Contracts, Estate Planning, Music Business and Brand Development on behalf of creative talent and lifestyle brands.

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