In celebration of World Intellectual Property Day, the House Of Representatives passed H.R. 5477, or the Music Modernization Act (MMA). This legislation is one of several other bills circulating to update music licensing law.

Passed with 415 votes on April 25, 2018, the bipartisan bill was introduced to members of the House Judiciary Committee by co-sponsors Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Goodlatte was the original author of the legislation. When speaking to the House, Goodlatte said, “the problems and failures in our nation’s music laws have imposed real financial costs upon artists and creators.” (Variety).

What will the MMA do?

The MMA specifically targets music listened to through digital service platforms. It affects four major areas of the digital music industry. First, music recorded before the first copyright laws of 1972 are provided with some legal protection. The MMA will efficiently collect and pay mechanical royalties to songwriters and copyright owners. Once in effect, the law gives songwriters, producers, sound engineers, and mixers the ability to be recognized for their work and receive payments. Lastly, the MMA will create a more stabilized model of royalty rates that will help balance the industry.

Much of the current copyright laws are dated to support the music industry of the 1970s.

While helpful during that time, those laws have caused a disproportionate amount of copyright owners, artists, and songwriters to not receive acknowledgment or royalty payments for their portion of work.

Members of both parties supported the proposed changes in the bill and urged the Senate to take the appropriate action. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) believed that the passing of the MMA in the House helps bring music licensing to the 21st century.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) recognized the need to make changes to the 20-year-old laws. Others like Republican Doug Collins (R-GA) worked to make sure both parties understood and supported the bill. Ted Deutch (D-FL) spoke up, stating that the bill didn’t solve problems such as omitting performer payments for radio airplay.

Deutch agreed that it was a step in the right direction.

What's next?

Sirius XM and Music Choice are the only two companies that have openly opposed the recently passed bill. The bill may cause some digital platforms to increase the price of their service to meet the new legislation. Music listeners will have to wait until it is passed by the Senate and signed into law. The Music Modernization Act will head to the Senate next month to be voted on.