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Senate passes Music Modernization Act, paving the way for big royalty changes

Photo: Rich Fury (Getty Images for Coachella)

As reported by Billboard, the Senate has unanimously passed the Music Modernization Act, a piece of legislation designed to update—or modernize—the way songwriting royalties work in today’s stream-heavy world. Most importantly, though, the Senate also decided to change the bill’s name to the Orrin G. Hatch Music Modernization Act, because the Utahan politician is a songwriter himself (he’s also one of those brave Republicans who vehemently disagrees with every awful thing Donald Trump does but won’t do anything to stop him, which is great).

Anyway, the Music Modernization Act combines three pieces of music rights-related legislation, including one that makes it easier for rights holders to get paid when songs are streamed online, one that allows songwriters to collect royalties on pre-1972 recordings, and one that allows producers and engineers to be paid royalties when their songs are streamed. Basically, it all just means that the people who make music will still be able to collect royalties as streaming services continue to render all other forms of music distribution obsolete. Also, this is the first time producers have been specifically mentioned in copyright law, so that’s pretty cool for producers.


Of course, as with any piece of legislation designed to help people get paid for their work, the Orrin G. Hatch Music Modernization Act faced some resistance. Billboard says SiriusXM put up an “aggressive lobbying effort” to try and make the bill a little worse for the people it was supposed to protect, with 150 recording artists planning to organize a SiriusXM boycott if the bill failed to pass. Now, the bill will have to go back to the House Of Representatives, so they can vote to approve the changes made in the Senate (maybe they’ll make the name longer?), and after that it’ll land on the desk of Donald Trump for final approval—Trump is an asshole, which isn’t really relevant here, but it’s always worth saying.

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