By Bronte Story

This comment provides an in-depth evaluation of the Music Modernization Act (“MMA” or “Act”). The MMA passed unanimously in the House and Senate and was signed into law in October of 2018. The overall purpose of the Act is to upgrade U.S. copyright law by conforming to advancing technological developments in the music industry.

The Act has three comprehensive titles and a fourth clause providing a catch-all. The three main titles were all created to streamline the somewhat out-of-date music industry procedures and standards provided for in the law. The goal of Title I is to create an efficient process for licensing music that comports with streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. One of the most dramatic changes Title I will have on current copyright law is the creation of what the Act names a Mechanical Licensing Collective that will process and grant licenses for streaming services. Title II is known as the CLASSICS Act and provides that artists who have copyright ownership in pre-1972 recordings will now receive royalties for any platform that streams their work.

In addition, Title III is known as the AMP Act, which allows producers and music engineers to collect royalties for the digital transmissions of their works. The final portion of the MMA is Title IV, or the Severability Clause, which adds a clause to the MMA allowing an amendment for anything in the Act which is found unconstitutional. An evaluation of this clause is beyond the scope of this comment.

This comment offers an analysis of the MMA, starting with a historical background and evolution of U.S. copyright law. More specifically, it conveys how U.S. copyright law has changed surrounding the music industry and how legislative adjustments were consistently made to catch up to technological developments. Next, it evaluates all three MMA titles. In conclusion, this comment portrays how the Act offers a simple and straightforward solution of streaming platforms as well as others in the music industry in our modern technological era.

 

Recommended Citation
Bronte Story, Streaming into the Twenty-First Century: An Evaluation of the Music Modernization Acts, SMU Sci. & Tech. L. Rev. Blog (2019), https://smulawjournals.org/stlr/2020/03/26/streaming-into-the-twenty-first-century-an-evaluation-of-the-music-modernization-act/.

About the Author
Bronte Story is a 2020 candidate for Juris Doctor from SMU Dedman School of Law. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Combined Journalism-Political Science from University of Arkansas-Fayetteville in 2017.