A Streaming Royalty Payments Bill, the Music Modernization Act, Is Introduced in Congress

Comprehensive music copyright legislation was introduced yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives. And this morning, it was amended in the Judiciary Committee, marking the first step toward getting the bill in front of the full House.

Titled the "Music Modernization Act" (H.R. 5447), the bill represents what could be the largest overhaul of music copyright and intellectual property law in decades. Supporters say it will reform the process for the collection of mechanical royalties—the royalty most commonly paid to songwriters for reproductions of a particular work.

Based on proposals and components from four earlier legislative efforts, the MMA seeks to enshrine that a stream of a song would result in a performance and a mechanical royalty payment. It would also establish a board of 14 members, which would include representation from major and independent music publishing companies, as well as four representatives for self-published songwriters.

According to most sources, the bill (which has both Democratic and Republican sponsors) will likely pass the House of Representatives, though it may face a more difficult legislative climb in the Senate.

In a statement released by Internet Subcommittee Ranking Member Hank Johnson, he said:

"This bill will help to bring music copyright law into the 21st century and benefit artists, producers, record labels, and digital streaming services. I am proud to support the bill because it will help songwriters who create the songs we all love. The bill is a compromise among many stakeholders in the music industry and will be one of the most meaningful updates to music copyright law in decades."

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