The Verge is reporting that the US Senate has approved the Music Modernization Act of 2018, S.2334, with unanimous consent, bringing the first reform for music licensing in 20 years on the cusp of becoming law. The companion version in the House previously passed in April, also with unanimous consent. The bill now must be reconsidered by the House and then ultimately signed by President Trump. Both of those are likely to happen, so the Senate was the last major hurdle. The bill creates a streamlined process for online services to license music and federalizes the patchwork of state laws governing music recorded before 1972. That will mean effectively shortening the term of protection of older music published between 1923 and 1954—under current law, these songs may not fall into the public domain until 2067.
According to The Verge, “the bill revamps Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act, combining three major pieces of legislation:
- The Music Modernization Act, which streamlines the music licensing process to make it easier for rights holders to get paid when their music is streamed online.
- The CLASSICS Act (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act) for pre-1972 recordings.
- The AMP Act (or Allocation for Music Producers Act), which improves royalty payouts for producers and engineers from SoundExchange when their recordings are used on satellite and online radio. Notably, this is the first time producers have ever been mentioned in copyright law.”