Music Modernization Act Signed Into Law
On October 11, 2018, President Trump signed into law the long-anticipated Music Modernization Act (“MMA”), legislation focused on shepherding the existing music licensing system into the digital age. Among the highlights, the MMA provides for blanket mechanical licensing and a licensing collective charged with managing mechanical license royalty payments to composers and publishers. The MMA is divided into three major titles, each focused on addressing certain perceived gaps in the existing structure. Some highlights are discussed below.
Title I of the MMA (Music Licensing Modernization) establishes a blanket, statutory mechanical license for digital music providers to be administered by a non-profit organization called the Mechanical Licensing Collective (the “MLC”). The MLC is charged with establishing a publicly accessible database of copyright ownership information for musical compositions. A digital music provider wishing to obtain a blanket mechanical license must file a notice of license with the MLC specifying, among other things, the covered activities. The MLC will have 30 calendar days to review that notice, and a provider whose application for a license is rejected will have an opportunity to cure or seek further review in federal district court
Title II of the MMA (Classics Protection and Access) extends federal copyright protection to pre-1972 sound recordings previously excluded from the copyright protection. The duration of protection for such works is set as follows:
- For recordings published before 1923, the term of protection ends on December 31, 2021;
- For recordings published between 1923 and 1946, the term of protection continues until December 31 of the year 100 years after publication;
- For recordings published between 1947 and 1956, the term of protection continues until December 31 of the year 110 years after publication; and
- For all other recordings (including unpublished recordings and ones published after 1956), the term of protection ends on February 15, 2067.
Title III of the MMA (Allocation for Music Producers) grants music producers a share of royalties collected when their sound recordings are played through online and satellite radio providers. Such producer payments are to be allocated from the share of streaming royalties allocated to recording artists under the current statutory scheme.
As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.
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