The Times They Are a-Changin’: Researching the Music Modernization Act on HeinOnline

  • Microphone laying on a sound board.

This article is republished with permission by W.S. Hein. View the original article here.

Kid Rock, the Beach Boys and Mike Love were among some of the musicians who joined President Donald Trump at the signing ceremony earlier this month for the Music Modernization Act (MMA). This bill was unanimously passed through the House and Senate prior to reaching the President’s desk. MMA was designed to fix copyright issues revolving around digital steaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora. The new digital wave of streaming made music more accessible; however, artists were losing out on revenue because of this new technology. MMA revamps Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act and is a combination of three bills previously introduced in Congress. Let’s take a look at the three bills, that were ultimately combined into one.

Music Modernization Act

This bill contains three major provisions:

  1. A non-profit governing agency will be created to establish royalty rates used to pay the composers and songwriters if their music is streamed. This relates only to the copyright which covers the composition and lyrics of a song. The royalty will be paid to the non-profit agency, who in turn will pay the mechanical license holder.
  2. Payments will be made to mechanical license holders if a song is reproduced digitally or physically.
  3. A new court process will be put in place to handle any disagreements over royalties.

Classics Act

Previous copyright law left any recordings of songs prior to February 15, 1972 up to individual states to pass laws for recording protection. Now, all recordings made between 1923 and February 1972 are covered by some period of copyright until February 15, 2067. Recordings prior to 1923 will enter into public domain in three years.

Allocation for Music Producers Act

SoundExchange, a non-profit organization established by Congress to distribute royalties on sound recordings, will now also distribute part of the royalties to a producer, mixer, or sound engineer who helped create the recording.

Learn More with HeinOnline

To research this topic in HeinOnline, enter “Music Modernization Act” into the Full Text tab from the Welcome Page.

Choose U.S. Congressional Documents from the Collection/Library facet to see the progress of this act through Congress. Then, select Volume Date (Newest First) from the Sort by option.

Documents recently added from the Congressional Record include:

These also include House Report 115-651.

To find journal articles on this topic, run the same search in the Law Journal Library. Results include relevant articles such as:

Take a look at the article Royalty Inequity: Why Music Streaming Services Should Switch to a Per-Subscriber Model. To view similar articles, click on the More Like This button.

This tool uses a program which pulls out “interesting words,” as determined by an algorithm, from the article being viewed. After clicking the More Like This button, users are provided with a list of similar articles, based on the interesting words.

Next, let’s search using the Subjects tool located underneath the Catalog tab. With this tool, users can browse thousands of subjects within HeinOnline. The subject coding is at the title level and can be used to browse subjects and look for documents on a specific subject. Enter the word music into the search bar.

Results include titles that are subject coded to the word music. For the topic at hand, relevant titles include:

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