Today, Americans for Tax Reform, along with a number of center-right organizations, sent a letter to members of the Senate in support of the Music Modernization Act (MMA), which will update copyright law benefiting America’s creative community. 

The MMA ensures that music creators get paid for their work, making it easier for streaming services to find and compensate artists. The MMA will also create protections for sound recordings that were made before 1972 that currently do not have federal copyright protection– ultimately helping the creators of these works receive long overdue royalties. 

Senator Orin G. Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Music Modernization Act in May. The bill is currently pending in the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. 

This legislation is noteworthy as it ensures creators are properly compensated and encourages future artists to create music for us to all enjoy in the digital age. The House of Representatives has also proposed similar legislation. 

The letter can be found here, and the full text of the letter is below. 

May 11, 2018

Dear Senators:

On behalf of our organizations we write to express our support the Music Modernization Act S. 2893, which will update copyright law to the benefit of America’s creative community.

The Music Modernization Act of 2017 creates a single licensing entity for all digital compositions. This rationalizes the digital music licensing process for both streaming entities and creators, so that distribution platforms can actually find the artists they want and need to compensate. It also raises the Copyright Royalty Board rate-setting standard to one that will better reflect rates that would likely result from an unencumbered market negotiation. Currently, songwriter compensation from digital services is outrageously low.

The MMA also creates a process by which producers and engineers receive compensation for their contributions in the creative process of finalized sound recordings. By codifying their right to receive royalties, the bills finally recognize an integral part of music creation.

Under current copyright law, pre-1972 sound recordings are not given federal copyright protection. The MMA finally introduces protections for pre-1972 recordings by making unlicensed digital transmissions of these recordings illegal, and provides these recordings with the same licensing rules as later recordings.This brings parity for royalties for pre-1972 and later recordings.

The ability to create and disseminate musical works has never been easier than it is now through digital formats. Creators should be able to use new technologies to spread their work without worrying about which medium provides the best compensation. This legislation updates the compensation process in order to provide even more incentive and appreciation for the creative process, and finally acknowledge, in law, the changes that artists and their fans have already implemented.

We request your favorable vote on S.2893, which has already passed the House, to bring copyright law closer to the digital realities of music creation and distribution.

Photo Credit: Ashley.adcox