Music bill backed by streaming services advances in the House
The House voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of a bill to update music licensing laws, a move widely backed by the music industry and lobbying groups representing streaming platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music and Google Play.
The legislation aims to update licensing laws that industry groups say are increasingly out of date. Section 115 of the Copyright Act has regulated musical compositions since it was created in 1909 — before even the first public radio broadcast.
“While the U.S. Constitution made intellectual property protections an anchor of our economy, other parts of our laws ignore technological realities and undermine free market principles at the expense of music creators and music lovers,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), one of the bill’s co-sponsors.
The legislation would update and simplify portions of the royalty payment process that industry groups say has been needed.
The Internet Association, a lobbying group that represents major internet companies including Amazon and Google, said the bill’s wide support was a testament to its importance.
“We all worked together to come up with something in a constructive way,” Michael Beckerman, president of the group, said during an interview with The Hill.
Beckerman argued that the legislation will ultimately help consumers and allow companies to more easily enter the streaming space to compete with industry giants like Spotify and Apple Music.
The Recording Industry Association of America has also said it supports the bill, creating a rare point of consensus between tech and the recording industry — two sides that have had vicious policy fights over copyright law in the past.
The Content Creators Coalition, a group that represents artists, has previous said it would still like to see changes in the version that the Senate votes to approve, though it supports the legislation in general.
Earlier this month, the coalition sent a letter to Collins and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), another co-sponsor, asking them to consider several changes to the legislation that they argued would benefit songwriters.
In their letter, they expressed concern over fair distribution of unclaimed royalties in the new system proposed by the bill, as well as over accountability and transparency in the new entities the legislation would create to handle how royalties are distributed.
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