On January 24, S. 2334 – the Music Modernization Act of 2018 – was introduced in the U.S. Senate and referred to the Judiciary Committee. Sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, and with bi-partisan co-sponsorship, S. 2334 is the Senate counterpart to HR 4706. The Music Modernization Act would reform Sections 114 and 115 of the Copyright Act by facilitating more timely and accurate payment of songwriter royalties and by streamlining blanket licenses for digital streaming services. If adopted, the Music Modernization Act would also move mechanical licensing royalties for music compositions to the “willing buyer/willing seller” standard, which seeks to “most clearly represent the rates and terms that would have been negotiated in the marketplace” among willing parties. The legislation has the support of songwriters, music publishers, and digital streaming services.
The House version of the Music Modernization Act was one of three bills that were briefly profiled in my January 16 blog post: “Congress Should Advance Consensus Music Copyright Reforms in 2018.” As explained in that post, several provisions of the Copyright Act regarding sound recordings and music compositions need to be updated to better secure copyright owners’ rights to the proceeds of their creative labors. The Music Modernization Act (S.2334/HR 4706), the CLASSICS Act (HR 3301), and the AMP Act (HR 881), would all help achieve those ends. Congress should seize the opportunity to make those reform proposals into reality in 2018.