Music Licensing Legislation Advances in House

The music licensing terrain in Washington is often complicated and controversial. However, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) successfully advanced their Music Modernization Act (H.R. 5447) out of their committee this week with a unanimous vote.

Calling it the result of the committee’s multi-year review of U.S. copyright laws, Goodlatte said, “This legislation, which is the first major update to our music licensing laws in decades, brings early 20th century music laws for the analog era into the 21st Century digital era.”

The legislation includes a number of provisions such as establishing a SoundExchange-like entity for songwriters, adjusting rate standards, and creating a public performance right for pre-1972 recordings. However, the legislation does not include a new performance tax on terrestrial broadcasting.  In fact, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) president and CEO Gordon Smith commended the bill as showing “a level of compromise and consensus on music licensing issues that has eluded lawmakers for decades.” He thanked committee leaders for their efforts “to ensure that free, local, over-the-air broadcasters would not be harmed by this legislation.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: April 13, 2018

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