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April 10, 2018 | News Articles

House Leaders Introduce New “Music Modernization Act”

Bill Slated For Committee Vote On Wednesday

WASHINGTON, DC – After several years of discussions and hearings, this week the House Judiciary Committee is slated to vote on a package of music licensing reforms introduced today by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Representatives Issa (R-Calif.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) called the new “Music Modernization Act” (H.R. 5447).  The new bill includes the original Music Modernization Act, the CLASSICS Act, the AMP Act, and a market-based rate standard for statutory licenses.

“The introduction of this new package bill, by the senior leadership of the House Judiciary Committee, is an unmistakable sign of more progress on several well-studied music licensing reforms, including the long-overdue CLASSICS Act,” said Cary Sherman, Chairman & CEO, RIAA.  “It is a consensus bill widely supported by thousands of artists and songwriters, dozens of music organizations and leading technology companies.  It is ready for a committee vote.

“There should be no debate that the greatest generation of music deserves to be paid when their recordings are played on digital radio. The time is now. These reforms have the potential to shape our industry’s future as they serve those in the music community who need them the most.  We are grateful for the leadership of Chairman Goodlatte, along with Ranking Member Nadler, and Representatives Issa, Johnson, Collins, Jeffries, Smith and Deutch as they work to make these critical reforms a reality.”


The Music Modernization Act  (H.R. 4706, S. 2334) is the most significant update to music copyright law for songwriters in a generation. The bill improves both how, and how much, songwriters are paid. The bill reforms Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act to create a single licensing entity that administers the mechanical reproduction rights for digital uses of musical compositions – like those used in interactive streaming models offered by Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, Google and others. It also repeals Section 114(i) and, consistent with most federal litigation, utilizes random assignment of judges to decide ASCAP and BMI rate-setting cases – two provisions that will enable fairer outcomes for songwriters and composers.

The CLASSICS Act (H.R. 3301, S. 2393) is overdue legislation that addresses one of copyright law’s most glaring loopholes: the lack of payment for the streaming of recordings made before 1972. Legacy artists who recorded music before 1972 are not entitled to be paid royalties under federal copyright law when their music is played on digital radio (think Pandora and SiriusXM). Many legacy artists are no longer able to tour in order to earn a living, so this unfortunate gap in the law has an enormous effect on their livelihoods. The CLASSICS Act would treat legacy artists the same way their contemporaries are treated. Notable: Pandora supports this bill, along with the Digital Media Association (DiMA), and the NAACP recently endorsed the legislation, among others. On Valentine’s Day, Rock n Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love and Mary Wilson of The Supremes made a compelling case before Members of Congress and staff at a CLASSICS Act event on Capitol Hill (see footage here).

The AMP Act (H.R. 881, S. 2625) improves and simplifies the payment of royalties owed to music producers, mixers and engineers by allowing royalty collection/distribution organization SoundExchange  to directly pay these music creators. This formalized, streamlined process provides a consistent and permanent arrangement for studio professionals to receive their much- deserved payments for their contributions to the creation of music.

Market-Based Rate Standard For Statutory Licenses. The new bill would require a market-based rate standard for sound recordings for statutory licenses. This provision would allow the Copyright Royalty Board which sets rates for statutory services to consider the rates and terms that would have been negotiated in the marketplace between a willing buyer and a willing seller.


Virtually everyone in the music community, as well as the major technology platforms who distribute music.  In January, more than twenty of the largest music organizations in the country voiced their unified support. Thousands of performers, from featured artists to sidemen, backup singers and musicians, have joined the chorus appealing to Congress in support of these needed reforms. More than 28,000 songwriters have endorsed the MMA and more than 300 prominent legacy artists have urged Congress to support the CLASSICS Act, and those numbers are growing each day. The Digital Media Association and the Internet Association, which represent some of our nation’s largest technology companies, also support this package — giving it unprecedented cross-industry backing.


After the House Judiciary Committee’s expected approval tomorrow, the bill heads to the House floor in the weeks ahead for a vote before the full chamber.  The Senate is likely to conduct a hearing on the legislative package in May and a markup in the Judiciary Committee soon thereafter.

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