“Music Modernization Act” Licensing Reform Moving in Congress
The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote soon on music licensing legislation. That’s good news… Mostly.
The Good News:
The “Music Modernization Act” is a strong, pro-artist, pro-songwriter bill. It includes payment for pre-72 artists and it creates a new system for songwriter royalties – with better rates.
It is expected to get an initial committee vote this week.
C3 strongly supports passage of the bill.
The Bad News:
The bill creates a new publisher/songwriter collective tasked with collecting and distributing royalties under the new licensing system. But in its current draft, there are a few problems with this proposed collective that need to be fixed:
- Lack of Transparency and “Black Boxes.” The new collective essentially operates in secret. The audit provisions currently in the draft legislation are complicated, costly, and inaccessible. Neither the public nor Congress have any way to evaluate the efficiency and responsibility of the collective. Instead, the bill should require public reports and an impartial audit or review.
- Unclaimed Royalties. The bill incentivizes collectives to not find or pay royalties to artist who have not yet registered to receive them. If the proper recipient of royalties is not found, major publishers get to pocket the money. The bill should be amended to create incentives for the collective to find every songwriter who is owed royalties.
- Songwriter representation on the Board of the Collective. The Board is dominated by Publishers, and while some songwriters are represented, they can be easily steam rolled and there is little possibility that independent songwriters will receive any representation. The bill should give independents a voice on the board.
The Fix: You!
Call or Email Key Members of the Judiciary Committee Today. Tell them you want fair representation for songwriters and transparency with NO MORE BLACK BOXES!
Talking Points for Phone Calls:
· Amend the Music Modernization Act;
· Add Fair representation for songwriters; and
· Demand Transparency with NO MORE BLACK BOXES!
Thank you for your efforts to pass music licensing reform legislation. While the Music Modernization Act makes a number of improvements on current law, additional changes to the bill are needed.
The new royalty collective established in the bill is not fair because it does not provide equal representation for songwriters and instead gives publishers a substantial majority of board seats. There is also little possibility that independent songwriters will be represented on the Board at all. The bill should be amended to provide equal representation for songwriters and at least one Board seat for an independent songwriter.
The collective also lacks transparency and accountability. The bill’s audit provisions are complicated, costly, and inaccessible. The bill should be amended to provide for periodic audits by an unbiased entity, such as the Government Accountability Office, and the results of those audits should be made available to the public.
Thank you for your consideration of my views.
Chairman Bob Goodlatte
Representative Doug Collins