T he Songwriters Guild of America (SGA) has joined the growing support for the Music Modernization Act. Due to state-by-state legislation that governs mechanical royalties, the current state of copyright legislation is incredibly complicated for songwriters to navigate. This legislation scheme has resulted in songwriters and publishers not receiving due royalties along with a host of litigation against digital streaming providers.

Initially the SGA did not support the MMA. Concerned that the new mechanical rights collecting society established by the bill gave too much power to publishers over songwriters, SGA voiced opposition.  Spurred by an edict from House representatives for consensus among industry players at a field hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, publishers agreed to revise the proposal. The revised proposal allocates the balance of power more evenly on key decisions on royalty distributions.

The bill’s supporters include 23 major music organizations, such as The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), and SoundExchange. Additionally, the Internet Association, which represents companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Spotify, has voiced support for the bill. The SGA was among the last notable voices against the MMA. The bill enjoys support from both sides of the aisle—one House Judicial Committee member commented at the field hearing held earlier this month noted that he was excited to finally vote YES on something. It seems that the only obstacle to passage is action by Congress.

Dallin Earl is an Entertainment Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2020).

Photo: “Katherine Philippa_8901 bw” by David in Lisburn licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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