A Modern Melody for the Music Industry: The Music Modernization Act is Now the Law of the Land

On October 11, 2018, President Trump signed the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA) into law. The MMA is intended to “modernize copyright law” as applied to songwriters, music publishers, digital music providers, record labels, and others involved in the creation and distribution of music.

The MMA consists of three parts:

  • Title I establishes a licensing collective to grant blanket mechanical licenses to digital music service providers and collect and distribute royalties to music composition rights owners;
  • Title II creates a royalty structure to compensate owners of pre-1972 sound recordings; and
  • Title III provides a statutory right for producers, mixers, and sound engineers to collect royalties for digital transmissions of sound recordings.

The MMA resulted from unprecedented alignment among Republicans and Democrats, the U.S. House and Senate, and music industry stakeholders. Nonetheless, this major update to copyright licensing law in the music industry may cause upheaval within the complex music marketplace structure, which encompasses songwriters, studio professionals, artists, record labels, and digital streaming services.

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Mark H. Wittow, Katherine L. Staba, Trevor M. Gates

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