Despite the intense division in the current political arena, music remains a uniting force. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., is leading a bipartisan effort to reform U.S. copyright law.
Though there has been significant technological advancement in recent years, copyright law has largely remained stagnant, keeping songwriters locked in the 20th century. The regulations currently in place were set over a decade before the advent of streaming services, such as Spotify and Pandora.
Current law has many songwriters claiming unjust compensation. Nashville-based songwriter Kevin Kadish, who co-wrote Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” claimed he only received $5,679 from the 178 million Pandora streams of the 2014 hit.
To address this issue, the Music Modernization Act (MMA), sponsored by Rep. Collins, would close the information gaps that prevent streaming companies from properly compensating songwriters, a solid move toward restoring a market-based system to the industry.
Current regulations allow these streaming companies to file a Notice of Intentions (NOIs) with the United States Copyright Office to obtain a license for the music in bulk. Since 2016, an estimated 45 million NOIs have been filed with the Copyright Office. Not only does the current regulatory system leave songwriters in the dark but it also leaves streaming companies with potential legal problems.
The MMA will give streaming services increased access to songwriter information, allowing them to compensate them properly and efficiently.
Further, at present, songwriters do not set the prices of their own songs. Instead, a judge on the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) does the job for them, using an antiquated standard of testing. Under the MMA, the CRB would set the rate of a song according to its market value. Rep. Collins called the new standard the CRB would use under the MMA a “willing buyer/willing seller consideration.”
Not only is there overwhelming support for the bill from both parties, but also from tech companies, artists, and songwriters.
The bipartisan bill, which, according to Rep. Collins, is “the most substantial update to copyright law since 1998,” is a step in the right direction toward restoring a competitive free-market system to the music industry.
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