Implementation of the Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act

The new law is effective as of October 11, 2018, when the president signed it into law. However, there are aspects of the law that become applicable at later dates. There also are several implementation steps that need to be carried out by the Copyright Office.

For example:

  • Effective immediately, the Copyright Office will no longer accept notices of intention to obtain a compulsory license for making and distributing digital phonorecords of nondramatic musical works (NOIs), such as in the form of a permanent download, limited download, or interactive stream.

  • The Copyright Office has issued a Rule regarding the form, content, and procedures for the filing of contact information by an entity that performs pre-1972 sound recordings by means of digital audio transmission. The Rule also sets forth regulations establishing the form, content, and procedures for the filing of schedules setting forth the title, artist, and rights owner of pre-1972 sound recordings, which rights owners may file with the Copyright Office.

  • The Copyright Office indexes schedules of pre-1972 sound recordings into its online searchable database, with results downloadable into an Excel spreadsheet. A separate online directory displays notices of contact information filed by digital services. The Office will launch a third online searchable database regarding proposed noncommercial uses of these recordings. Users may subscribe to weekly email alerts to identify recently indexed pre-1972 sound recordings, and a separate alert is being created regarding notices of noncommercial use.

  • The Copyright Office issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing specific, reasonable steps that, if taken, are sufficient to constitute a good faith, reasonable search to determine whether a pre-1972 sound recording is being commercially exploited, including the services that satisfy the good faith, reasonable search requirement for purposes of certain safe harbors. The Copyright Office will also set forth regulations establishing the form, content, and procedures for the filing of related notices.

  • The Copyright Office issued a Notice of Inquiry soliciting information to assist in the designation of the appropriate entity to serve as the mechanical licensing collective and the designation of a digital licensee coordinator who will serve on the board of the collective and perform certain activities in connection with the representation of digital music providers. The Office will engage in additional rulemaking activities with respect to the revamped system for mechanical licensing.

  • The Copyright Office finalized interim regulations that had amended the Office’s previous regulations pertaining to the compulsory “mechanical” license for making and distributing phonorecords of nondramatic musical works available under 17 U.S.C. § 115 so as to conform the existing regulations to the new law, including with respect to the operation of notices of intention and statements of account, and to make other minor technical updates.

  • The Copyright Office will engage in public education and other outreach activities to inform interested members of the public of important changes as a result of the legislation. This outreach will include educating songwriters about the process by which a copyright owner may claim ownership of musical works before the mechanical licensing collective, and the process by which royalties for works for which the copyright owner is not identified shall be equitably distributed to known copyright owners.

The Copyright Office is eager to embark upon these and other steps toward implementation of this historic law. Additional information on implementation steps by the Copyright Office will be addressed on the Copyright Office webpage. Announcements regarding the implementation will be made via the Copyright Office’s NewsNet newsletter, which can be subscribed to at NewsNet.