Breaking: Hatch-Goodlatte Music Modernization Act Passes House Vote

The final procedural vote on the Music Modernization Act occurred today (Sept. 25) as the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill with its new name, The Hatch-Goodlatte Music Modernization Act. The act’s new name honors retiring Senator Orrin Hatch, the lead Senate sponsor of the legislation and U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA) who is also retiring from Congress at the end of this term.

The final step for the MMA is for President Donald Trump to sign the act into law.

“Today Congress officially passed the Music Modernization Act, giving American songwriters real hope for fair royalty compensation in the future,” said songwriter Steve Bogard, President of the Nashville Songwriters Association International.

“It has been a long, long journey,” said NSAI Executive Director Bart Herbison. “But in many ways the journey has really just begun. After the President signs the legislation into law. songwriters and music publishers being a two-year process to create a new licensing agency that they will oversee. Controlling that process is very important and along with tools to achieve higher streaming royalty rates makes the MMA the most important bill for songwriters in history.”

The Music Licensing Collective (MLC) begins operation Jan. 2, 2021 and will administer a new blanket license for digital mechanical royalties, work to identify song owners so they can be properly compensated, distribute unclaimed funds and represent every American songwriter. It will also be the first time in history 100 cents of every dollar collected will be paid to songwriters since the streaming companies have agreed to pay all costs associated with operating the MLC.

The bill will also:
Changes the standard by which songwriter streaming rates are established replacing an outdated 1909 law that governs songwriter mechanical or sales royalties, changes consent decree regulations from 1941 that govern songwriter performance royalties.
Requires the random selection of judges when performing rights societies ASCAP or BMI go to a rate court proceeding. Presently those judges are appointed for life.
Eliminates the disastrous Notice of Intent (NOI) program administered by the U.S. Copyright Office that allows digital streaming companies to put the licensing burden back on songwriters.
Guarantees streaming royalty payments to artists whose recordings were done before 1972 who now are not required to be paid due to a loophole in the Copyright Act.
Pays streaming royalties directly to music producers and engineers instead of going through other parties first.

NMPA President & CEO David Israelite commented, “After many months moving through Congress, we are thrilled to see the Music Modernization Act officially passed. Now, only days stand between tonight’s House vote and this bill becoming law. We thank our champions Congressman Doug Collins, Hakeem Jeffries, Bob Goodlatte and all of the members who again voted unanimously to improve the lives of millions of music creators and fans. This was not an easy process, but it has galvanized the entire industry behind the songwriters, artists, producers and composers whose voices carried the bill across this threshold. Music is at the core of our country and it’s edifying to see Congress work together to ensure those who make it can make a living in the digital age.”

“The trajectory of the Music Modernization Act has shown the power of music creators to effect real change. From its unanimous approval in the House of Representatives in April, to its passage in the Senate last week, we have seen unprecedented advocacy from the music community. With today’s final passage of the bill in the House, we are one step away from the most sweeping music copyright reform since the 8-track tape era, and we look forward to this being signed into law,” says Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow.

“If you are a music fan, you should celebrate today’s House passage of the Music Modernization Act. The music industry came together to demand that Congress modernize our music laws. That includes ensuring that music creators get paid more fairly. Because we spoke with one voice, Congress heard us. On behalf of SoundExchange’s 170,000-member community, thank you.” said SoundExchange President/CEO Michael Huppe.

John Josephson, SESAC Chairman and CEO, adds “Tonight’s unanimous passage of the Music Modernization Act by the House is a big win for content creators, and we remain hopeful the President will sign the bill in the coming days. Thanks to all for their support on this important legislation for our creative community.”

“Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the final version of the Music Modernization Act, now known as the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act. We are now one step away from enacting comprehensive copyright reform that will benefit American music creators for generations to come, while simplifying the licensing process for music streaming services. We would like to thank our music industry partners, the diverse businesses that utilize music, the bipartisan legislators, and the highly engaged, passionate community of songwriters and composers, all of whom together championed this bill to protect the future of music in our nation. We hope to be able to celebrate the final passage of this historic bill into law in the near future,” said BMI President/CEO Mike O’Neill.

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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