Music Modernization Act Introduced

According to a report in Inside Radio, U.S. Senate introduced legislation titled ‘Music Modernization Act’ as a compromise over music rights. The National Association of Broadcasters has concerns about the bill.

According to NAB President Gordon Smith “the current bill text includes unrelated provisions that will almost certainly result in unjustifiable cost increases for local radio and TV broadcasters and many other music licensees.”

The bill amends the copyright law to create a single licensing entity that administers the mechanical reproduction rights for all digital uses of musical compositions. While that would impact streaming services like Pandora or Spotify more than broadcast radio, the other piece of the bill would upend how rate-setting negotiations involving ASCAP and BMI play out when they land in federal court. Specifically, it would allow ASCAP and BMI, as well as songwriters, to present evidence about the music ecosystem to the judges as they consider whether to increase the rates music users are paying. Today the courts aren’t allowed to consider sound recording royalty rates as a relevant benchmark when setting performance royalty rates for songwriters and composers.

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