U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) Thursday said the Senate will introduce legislation early next year that would help songwriters receive fair market compensation for their creative works and also improve an outdated music licensing process for digital music companies. U.S. Representatives Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jefferies (D-NY) introduced legislation Thursday in the House of Representatives that takes the first step toward this goal.
“Songwriters are the lifeblood of Music City, and their paychecks ought to be based on the fair market value of their songs – so that when they write a hit heard around the world, you can see it in their billfolds,” Senator Alexander said. “We intend to introduce legislation that we have been working on for months to help songwriters receive fair market compensation early next year, and we will be including in our legislation many of the same provisions that were in the House bill introduced today.”
“I congratulate my House colleagues on introducing legislation today to bring our music licensing system into the 21st Century,” Hatch said. “Our outdated rules for collecting and distributing music royalties have failed to keep pace with the digital revolution. As a result, music streaming companies face uncertain legal obligations, and many songwriters and other artists are not compensated fairly for their work. I’ve been working closely with Senator Alexander on companion legislation here in the Senate to fix these problems and look forward to introducing our legislation early in the new year. We need a music licensing system that works, and our bill will help create such a system.”
In 2015, Senators Alexander and Hatch introduced the Songwriter Equity Act, legislation that would have allowed songwriters to receive market-based compensation and remove government price controls in two ways:
First, it would have directed the Copyright Royalty Board to set compensation according to the fair market value when songs are sold, such as through music downloads and CD purchases, replacing the current below-market standard.
Second, it would have removed a provision of law that narrows the scope of evidence the federal rate court may examine when asked to set songwriter compensation for when their song is played, such as in a restaurant or at a concert.