On Thursday, February 5, 2015, the U.S. Copyright Office released a massive 245-page music licensing study proposing fairly radical, but in many cases much needed, changes to how music is licensed. As anyone who has ever tried to license music can tell you, the system is long overdue for an overhaul. Many of the changes proposed have been a long time coming and would create positive change in the music licensing space. A link to an article summarizing some of the proposed changes is right here. A link to the U.S. Copyright Office’s Executive Summary of the music licensing study is right here.
Some of the proposed changes recommended by the music licensing study include:
- Regulating musical works and sound recordings in a consistent manner;
- Extending the public performance right in sound recordings to terrestrial radio;
- Fully federalizing pre-1972 sound recordings;
- Adopting uniform market-based ratesetting for all government rates;
- Permitting opt-outs from PROs for interactive streaming;
- Allowing bundled licensing of mechanical and performance rights;
- Establishing blanket licensing for digital uses under section 115;
- Allowing SoundExchange to process record producer payments; and
- Establishing transparency in direct deals.
I’m cautiously optimistic, but I’m also aware that there are a lot of stakeholders here with multi-million-dollar interests in how all of this turns out. I highly recommend reading the “Copyright and Compromise” chapter from Jessica Litman’s fantastic, and somehow not very dated, book Digital Copyright, for some insight in how the sausage is sometimes made, so to speak, with regard to copyright laws.