BMI Supports Introduction of the Music Modernization Act of 2017


Today, Congressmen Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) introduced the Music Modernization Act of 2017. This bill represents months of collaboration between BMI, and other organizations representing songwriters, composers, and publishers such as NMPA, ASCAP, NSAI, and SONA, and the music user community.


The bill is designed to benefit American songwriters, composers and publishers by modernizing two key portions of the U.S. Copyright Law: On the mechanical licensing side, the bill enables those creators to be paid faster and more fairly across all platforms that use music, including digital streaming services. On the performing rights side, the legislation would change the current rate court system to allow for a random assignment of judges, and in addition would permit the rate court judges to consider all relevant market evidence when determining compensation for the performance of a musical work. These provisions would establish a more level playing field for the creative community to receive fair market value for their work.


Additional cosponsors of this bill include Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), as well as Reps. Diane Black (R-TN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Pete Sessions (R-TX).


Several parties involved issued a joint statement regarding the introduction of this legislation.


National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) President & CEO David Israelite, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) CEO Elizabeth Matthews, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) President & CEO Mike O’Neill, Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) President Steve Bogard and Songwriters of North America (SONA) Executive Directors Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley:


“We strongly support the introduction of the Music Modernization Act which represents months of collaboration and compromise between the songwriting and tech industries. This legislation enables digital music companies to find the owners of the music they use and reforms the rate setting process for performing rights, ensuring that songwriters and music publishers are paid faster and more fairly than ever before.”


“For too long, digital music services have taken advantage of the ‘bulk NOI’ process and often failed to find the correct creators to pay, and now—by working together—this bill ends this practice by creating a private-sector system where money will no longer be lost to inefficiencies and lack of information. The bill also improves how mechanical royalty rates are calculated by introducing a willing-seller/willing-buyer standard.”


“On the performance rights side, the bill also replaces the current rate court system with the random assignment of judges used in most federal court cases, and allows the rate courts to review all relevant market evidence into the valuation of how songwriters are compensated.”


“We thank Congressmen Collins and Jeffries for their leadership in striking this balance that improves and modernizes our outdated licensing system and gives songwriters the ability to be paid what they deserve across all platforms that use music, including the growing interactive streaming services.”


BMI President and CEO Mike O’Neill added:


“We thank Congressmen Collins and Jeffries for their introduction of the Music Modernization Act of 2017 and for always working to protect the rights of the American songwriter. While we believe there is still more to do to protect the value of the performance right, we are gratified that the Music Modernization Act contains two important provisions that create a more level playing field when determining the fair market value of our songwriters’ music; a wheel assignment for rate court judges and the repeal of 114(i). BMI also takes comfort that the bill’s new mechanical licensing provisions were the result of an important collaboration between the subject matter experts in this area—the mechanical rights holders and the digital services who rely on those rights. While we know this bill is not yet final, we believe it is an important step forward in modernizing music licensing and we look forward to working with all of the interested parties.”

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