A bipartisan group of eight senators recently introduced legislation they said would be the “most significant change in music licensing laws in decades” to ensure songwriters are paid fair value for their songs.
The Music Modernization Act would set up a new simplified licensing entity to make it easier for digital music companies to obtain a license and play songs. The entity will ensure songwriters are paid the royalties they are owed. The bill would also change the law to help songwriters be paid a fair market value for their songs.
The senators said the internet has transformed the music industry, and the Music Modernization Act updates outdated music licensing laws to make it easier for songwriters to be paid when their music is played online by a digital streaming service, or purchased online.
Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware; Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island; Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee; Dick Durbin, D-Illinois; Bob Corker, R-Tennessee; Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia; and Doug Jones, D-Alabama, said the legislation represents a consensus among songwriters, music publishers and digital services.
The Music Modernization Act adopts a licensing system for digital music services to make it easier for companies to obtain a license to play a song and reduce the likelihood of litigation. It also ensures songwriters will be paid the fair market value for their songs by directing the Copyright Royalty Board to set compensation according to the fair market value when songs are sold, such as through music downloads, replacing the current below-market standard and by removing a provision of law that narrows the scope of evidence the federal rate court may examine when asked to set songwriter compensation for when their song is played, such as in a restaurant or at a concert.