×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Senators Seek to Streamline Music Licensing, Boost Payments to Songwriters

WASHINGTON — A group of senators introduced legislation on Wednesday to streamline the music licensing process and to increase royalty payments to rights holders.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and five others wrote a bill similar to one introduced in the House last month.

The Music Modernization Act updates music licensing laws to make it easier for songwriters to get paid when their music is streamed or purchased online. Songwriters have been seeking legislative changes for years, pointing out that they have not been receiving fair market value for their works on digital platforms like Spotify and Pandora.

“Our music licensing laws are convoluted, out-of-date, and don’t reward songwriters fairly for their work,” said Hatch, who is a songwriter himself. “They’ve also failed to keep up with recent, rapid changes in how Americans purchase and listen to music.”

Alexander said the legislation is “the first major bill that has the support of music creators, publishers, and digital music companies. With such broad support, I’m hopeful we will be able to pass the legislation this spring.”

Also sponsoring the legislation is Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)

The changes in the bill include:

  • In a new standard, mechanical royalty rates will be based on what a willing buyer and a willing seller would negotiate in a free market.
  • A single entity will be created to grant blanket licenses for all musical works to digital media companies, and the entity will collect royalties for distribution to copyright holders. Digital music companies will pay the operation costs of the entity, but will also be shielded from liability for statutory damages. Digital music companies and copyright owners will still be able to enter their own voluntary license agreements.
  • Rate courts will be able to consider sound recording performance royalty rates when determining musical work performance royalties for digital services.
  • ASCAP and BMI are now subject to the same two judges presiding over the rate courts that decide songwriter compensation. Under the legislation, each new rate-setting case would be randomly assigned to a federal judge consistent with other federal litigation.

Elizabeth Matthews, the CEO of ASCAP, said the legislation makes changes “that better reflect the evolution of how people listen to music.”

“While there is more work to be done to ensure that songwriters earn fair compensation, this legislation, like the similar bill recently introduced in the House, represents important progress in an ongoing effort on industry-wide reforms that protect the rights of music creators,” she said.

More Politics

  • Mueller Report Released: Networks Cut the

    Networks Curb Their Enthusiasm, William Barr Flexes as Mueller Report Goes Public

    The run-up to Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the conduct of President Donald Trump suggested it was just one component part of a busy news day, something close to business as usual. And the broadcast — in which Barr stormily defended the President as [...]

  • Mueller Report: Redacted Version of Trump

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Redacted Report Released

    WASHINGTON — Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation leaves open the question of whether President Trump’s conduct rose to the level of obstruction of justice, one of many takeaways after a redacted version of the highly anticipated document was released to the public on Thursday. The report, which you can read here, [...]

  • Attorney General Says Mueller Report Redactions

    Attorney General William Barr Defends Trump, Says Mueller Report Redactions Will Be 'Limited'

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr, in a press conference in advance of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, said that the redactions will be limited. But speaking to reporters on Thursday, Barr also offered what amounted to a defense of President Trump’s conduct as Mueller’s investigation unfolded, in what Democrats and other [...]

  • Feu cath'drale Notre Dame de Paris.

    Disney Pledges $5 Million to Help Rebuild Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral

    The Walt Disney Co. has joined a number of other companies in pledging $5 million towards the reconstruction of Notre-Dame, the iconic Paris landmark damaged this week by a massive fire. Disney CEO Bob Iger said the cathedral, which featured in the company’s 1996 animated adaptation of Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” was [...]

  • Tom Zigo MPAA

    Tom Zigo Joins MPAA as Communications Director

    WASHINGTON — Tom Zigo is joining the MPAA as its new communications director. Zigo will report to Chris Ortman, the MPAA’s chief spokesperson and senior vice president of communications. Zigo previously worked for Precision Strategies, the firm that was co-founded by Stephanie Cutter, Jen O’Malley Dillon and Teddy Goff. He worked on strategy for clients [...]

  • President Donald Trump listens to a

    White House Refuses to Turn Over AT&T-Time Warner Records to House Democrats

    WASHINGTON — The White House is refusing to turn over records of communications related to the AT&T-Time Warner merger after House Democrats demanded such information, prompted by New Yorker report that President Trump had ordered advisers to pressure the Justice Department to block the deal. Pat Cipollone, the counsel to the president, wrote that such [...]

  • Pete Buttigieg Show Business Donations

    Ryan Reynolds, James Murdoch Among Pete Buttigieg's Showbiz Donors

    When Pete Buttigieg officially announced his campaign for president over the weekend, more than a few showbiz personalities weighed in to comment on the history being made. Ellen DeGeneres wrote on Twitter, “These words make me very, very happy. ‘My name is @petebuttigieg. They call me Mayor Pete. I am a proud son of South [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content