The Music Modernization Act

The Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (Music Modernization Act) is the most significant piece of copyright legislation in decades and updates our current laws to reflect modern consumer preferences and technological developments in the music marketplace. The law is organized into three key titles, outlined below: Title IMusical Works Modernization Act; Title IIClassics Protection and Access Act; and Title IIIAllocation for Music Producers Act. The Copyright Office has been active in executing its duties under the MMA, including:

On July 8, 2019, the U.S. Copyright Office named Mechanical Licensing Collective, Inc. as the designated Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) under Title I of the MMA.

On September 24, 2019, the Office issued a notice of inquiry regarding implementation regulations for the new blanket section 115 “mechanical” license. Following this notice, on April 22, 2020 the Office published multiple notices of proposed rulemaking and on July 17, 2020 published an additional notice of proposed rulemaking, each focusing on one or more of the regulatory categories discussed in the initial notice.

On December 6, 2019, the Office held an all-day educational symposium to kick off a public study to determine the best practices that the MLC may implement to effectively identify copyright owners and unclaimed royalties of musical works while encouraging copyright owners to claim royalties and ultimately reduce the occurrence of unclaimed royalties, as directed by the MMA.

Headphones on top of laptop

Title I—Musical Works Modernization Act

Downloads and Streaming

Title I, among other things, replaces the existing song-by-song compulsory licensing structure for making and distributing musical works with a blanket licensing system for digital music providers to make and distribute digital phonorecord deliveries (e.g., permanent downloads, limited downloads, or interactive streams).

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Record player

Title II—Classics Protection and Access Act

Pre-1972 Recordings

Title II, among other things, brings pre-1972 sound recordings partially into the federal copyright system. The legislation created a new chapter 14 to title 17 of the United States Code, which, among other things, extends remedies for copyright infringement to owners of sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972.

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Musicians at computer; sound board

Title III—Allocation for Music Producers Act

Producers' Royalties

Title III, among other things, allows music producers, mixers, or sound engineers to receive royalties collected for uses of sound recordings under the section 114 statutory license by codifying a process wherein the designated collective (Sound Exchange) will distribute those royalties to such parties under a “letter of direction.”

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