Music Modernization Act, unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives

New legislation designed to improve the way music creators are paid and protected was unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday.

The Music Modernization Act, which aims take account of the digital revolution, will go to the Senate next month. Specifically, the MMA proposes the establishment of a central database of creators so those owed payments can be found more easily and the opening up of pay rates to market forces.

Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler contributed to a commentary piece about the act in February. “Since 1909, songwriter rates have been dictated by law, not by what's negotiated in the real world or the free market," he said. "Unlike artists and authors who create things, songwriters' rates are determined by a court, and that court doesn't even look at all the evidence to decide what songwriters deserve. The MMA improves this by telling the judges to look at what songwriters would make if they were in a free market, which will raise what songwriters are paid.”

Tyler and co-author David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association, added that “songwriters are the unsung heroes of the music industry. What improves their ability to create will improve the entire ecosystem. We need to make the chorus for the MMA so loud that songwriters can no longer be ignored.”

“Music is no longer written on piano rolls, and our laws shouldn’t be based on that technology either," bill co-sponsor Robert Goodlatte said from the House floor (via Variety). "The problems and failures in our nation’s music laws have imposed real financial costs upon artists and creators.”

He listed additional benefits as the improvement of a licensing system “that seems to generate more paperwork and attorneys’ fees than royalties” and royalty protection for performances recorded before 1972, which were previously not subject to digital compensation laws due to a loophole.

Having received cross-party support since its first appearance, the bill is expected to be passed in some form by the Senate, before proceeding to the president to be signed into law.

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