October 22, 2019

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Music Modernization Act Heads to Oval Office

The Music Modernization Act (MMA) is headed to the President's desk for signature following unanimous approval from the House of Representatives and the Senate. The bill, now called the "Orrin G. Hatch Music Modernization Act" (H.R. 1551),  provides a significant update to how artists are paid for their music. The Copyright Alliance plugged the bill as "the most significant improvement of music copyright law in more than a generation, making it easier for creators across the music industry to earn a fair living through their creativity."

The MMA combines the following three separate pieces of legislation to bring music royalties into the modern era:

  • The Music Modernization Act of 2018, S. 2334, which updates licensing and royalties for music streaming services;

  • The CLASSICS Act (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act) which opens up music royalties for pre-1972 songs; and

  • The AMP Act (Allocation for Music Producers Act) which provides for royalties for music producers and engineers.

Industry supporters, including the Digital Media Association (DiMA), touted the MMA's assist to the music licensing process with DiMA CEO Chris Harrison noting that the MMA will help to speed royalty payments to music publishers and songwriters, and also provide digital streaming services with increased efficiency and greater certainty.  “Much has changed in the music industry in the digital age, with online streaming driving increased revenues for creators and copyright owners alike,” Harrison said in a statement. “A modern industry requires a modern solution."

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) thanked members of the House and Senate for their non-partisan efforts to bring about the MMA.  "As the Turtles would say," noted RIAA president Mitch Glazier, "we’re grateful Congress is ‘so happy together.’”

However, not all industry players were happy together on the road to finalizing the MMA, as demonstrated by aggressive infighting and an 11th hour compromise to bring satellite radio behemoth, and noted MMA-hold out, SiriusXM radio on board.  Prior to striking an agreement surrounding royalty rates and platform equality, SiriusXM had been an outspoken opponent of the MMA, arguing that the bill treated the satellite radio company unfairly when compared to its competition. 

In all, the MMA is the result of nearly 5 years of collaboration among players from all parts of the music business with the National Music Publishers' Association noting that the MMA is a "historic occasion for the music industry, copyright reform, and marks the beginning of a new era for music creators in consensus with stakeholders industry-wide." 

In terms of the last signature needed to bring music royalties into the modern age, all parties involved are hopeful that the President is in favor of the bill.

© 2019 Bracewell LLP

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About this Author

Erin Hennessy, trademark, copyright attorney, Bracewell law firm
Partner

Erin Hennessy is a partner in Bracewell's Technology Group and is the head of the firm’s Trademark and Copyright practice. Her practice focuses on trademark law, copyright law, and internet and social media issues spanning many industries including media, publishing, technology, retail, fashion, and financial services.  Having served as a former chief trademark counsel in-house, she brings an innate business sense and first-hand insights to her practice.

Erin counsels clients on all aspects of IP with a particular emphasis on supporting legal,...

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Annie Allison, Bracewell Law Firm, Copyright and IP attorney
Associate

Annie Allison focuses on advising and assisting clients on intellectual property issues related to trademark, copyright, and technology law.

She regularly prepares and prosecutes trademark applications and assists in the management of global trademark portfolios. Annie also assists on a broad array of IP and technology related matters, including IP licensing and technology transactions focused on software, digital media, advertising, merchandising, and innovative technology. She advises clients on data privacy strategies and related regulatory compliance. Her experience also includes drafting and negotiating multi-national media distribution and IP licensing agreements for software and entertainment technology companies.

Prior to joining Bracewell, Annie served as an extern to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, Antitrust Division and as a judicial assistant to the Honorable Charles Weller of the Second Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada. Prior to practicing law, Annie was a television broadcast news reporter and producer.

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Jonathon Hance Energy Intellectual Property Attorney Bracewell Law firm
Associate

Mr. Hance focuses his practice on energy and intellectual property litigation, with an emphasis on complex commercial disputes relating to energy-supply agreements, and particularly, ISDA Master Agreements, in the oil & gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), trading & marketing, renewable, solar, chemical, and petrochemical industries. His litigation practice also includes cases of patent infringement, trademark infringement, false-marking, and misappropriation of trade secrets in the areas of software, open-source code, mobile devices, computer hardware, gTLDs (...

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