Goodlatte Preparing to Unveil Compromise Bill on Music Copyrights (1)

By Anandashankar Mazumdar

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte plans to introduce a new music copyright bill and move it through his committee soon, congressional and industry sources told Bloomberg Law.

Representatives of groups that have been participating in negotiations on congressional legislation said that Goodlatte (R-Va.) is likely to introduce his bill in the next couple of weeks.

If enacted, the prospective legislation—also known as the “unity bill"—may help smooth the relationships between music copyright owners and businesses that license music. The relationships are particularly important as streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music replace compact discs and other physical media as the primary way listeners access music.

A senior congressional aide also told Bloomberg Law that Goodlatte (R-Va.) is planning to introduce a new bill soon. A House Judiciary Committee aide told Bloomberg Law that the committee is planning to markup copyright legislation within the next few weeks.

Industry, Hill Sources Expect Action

Daryl P. Friedman, chief of government relations at the Recording Academy, the group behind the annual Grammy awards, told Bloomberg Law that he expects several current bills to be pieced together to make up a comprehensive package. Sources at other music organizations confirmed this on background.Friedman also said he expects introduction of Senate counterparts to components of Goodlatte’s measure that so far have only been introduced in the House.

Goodlatte, who is retiring at the end of his current term, made comprehensive copyright legislation a priority on his agenda when he took over the chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee.In December, Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.) introduced the Music Modernization Act ( H.R. 4706), which was described as a compromise bill. Representatives of music rights owners as well as the National Association of Broadcasters—which represents terrestrial radio and television stations—expressed support for the Collins bill.H.R. 4706 includes provisions to create a blanket license that music streaming services could use as a one-stop shop to clear songs for use. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a companion bill ( S. 2334) in the Senate in January.Just before the Grammy awards in February, the committee held a field hearing in New York, where representatives of recording artists, songwriters, and record producers urged Congress to pass comprehensive legislation.According to industry sources, the Goodlatte bill would combine Collins’s Music Modernization Act with other bills that would bring pre-1972 sound recordings into the federal copyright system and give royalty rights to music producers and engineers.

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