Orrin G. Hatch—Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act

The Orrin G. Hatch—Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (“Music Modernization Act”) addresses Congress’s determination that copyright law has not kept pace with changing consumer preferences and technological developments in the music marketplace. It is the most significant piece of copyright legislation in decades. The law is organized into three key titles: Title I—Music Licensing Modernization; Title II—Classics Protection and Access; and Title III—Allocation for Music Producers. The Copyright Office welcomes the passage of landmark legislation expected to benefit the many across all aspects of the music marketplace, including songwriters, publishers, artists, record labels, digital services, libraries, and the public.


In advance of this legislation, Congress held a series of hearings on music, as part of its comprehensive review of the nation’s copyright laws. To inform that effort, the Copyright Office conducted a comprehensive study of the music licensing framework as well as the ever-evolving needs of those who create and invest in music, which resulted in a report entitled “Copyright and the Music Marketplace.” This report followed the Copyright Office’s earlier report “Federal Copyright Protection for Pre-1972 Sound Recordings,” which examined the desirability of and means for bringing sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, under federal jurisdiction. Many of the suggestions offered in these reports will be realized in enactment of this legislation.

Licensing Interactive Streams

Title I—Music Licensing Modernization Act
addresses Section 115 of Title 17

Title I, among other things, replaces the existing song-by-song compulsory licensing structure for making and distributing musical works with a blanket licensing system for digital music providers to make and distribute digital phonorecord deliveries (e.g., permanent downloads, limited downloads, or interactive streams).

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Pursuant to the Musical Works Modernization Act, title I of the recently-enacted Orrin G. Hatch—Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA), the U.S. Copyright Office issued a notice of inquiry regarding the designation of a mechanical licensing collective and a digital licensee coordinator to carry out key functions under the updated mechanical licensing process. Based on the submissions received and the selection criteria provided in the statute, the Register designated the Mechanical Licensing Collective, Inc. as the MLC, and the Digital Licensee Coordinator, Inc. as the DLC, with the Librarian’s approval.

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Pre-1972 Recordings

Title II—Classics Protection and Access Act
addresses pre-1972 sound recordings

Title II, among other things, brings pre-1972 sound recordings partially into the federal copyright. The legislation created a new chapter 14 of the copyright law, title 17 United States Code, which, among other things, extends remedies for copyright infringement to owners of sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972 (“Pre-1972 Sound Recordings”) when the recordings are used without authorization. The new chapter includes several limitations and exceptions to the eligibility for these remedies and related administrative procedures, which are addressed below.

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Music Producers/Royalties

Title III—Allocation for Music Producers Act
addresses royalty payments for certain creators

Title III, among other things, allows music producers, mixers, or sound engineers to receive royalties collected for uses of sound recordings under the section 114 statutory license by codifying a process wherein the designated collective (Sound Exchange) will distribute those royalties to such parties under a "letter of direction."