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Music Modernization Act could be hotlined by Senate later today

By | Published on Monday 17 September 2018

US Congress

The Music Modernization Act could be ‘hotlined’ in US Senate later today, according to sources who have spoken to Billboard. Hotlining is a process that can get legislation through in a speedy fashion where there is no objection from any Senators.

The MMA, of course, includes various reforms of US copyright law. Among other things, it seeks to address the issues around the payment of mechanical royalties by streaming services Stateside, as well as ensuring online and satellite radio services pay royalties on pre-1972 as well as post-1972 recordings. It also reforms the way the US Copyright Royalty Board and the rate courts that regulate BMI and ASCAP set rates where they control royalties.

A long time in the making, once in Congress the MMA sped through the House Of Representatives super fast. But there have been a few delays since it reached the Senate, even though an amended version of the legislation was passed by its judiciary committee. Last minute interventions by SESAC and subsequently SiriusXM have threatened to scupper things. The former was solved, though the latter remains a potential issue.

There is a deadline for the MMA project, in that the current Congressional session finishes at the end of the year, and if the reforms haven’t gone through before then, the process would have to begin afresh in the new session next year. With the mechanical royalties issue particularly pressing, the American music industry is keen to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Billboard’s sources say that all 100 senators were emailed the latest version of the MMA on Friday with a note that it would be considered for hotlining later today. With the SiriusXM dispute seemingly unresolved, it remains to be seen if the proposals can actually be passed in this way.