Music industry insiders, from creators to producers and engineers are celebrating the Music Modernisation Act (MMA). The new act, which was brought into law earlier this week, will reduce the ambiguity experienced by almost everyone as the music industry transitioned from analogue to digital.
Things used to be simple; if a compact disc were sold, a percentage of the sale price was paid to the artist. If a radio station played a song, a percentage would be paid to the artist, and if a song was duplicated without the permission of the artist, then legal action could be taken. The advent of digital technology meant that things became more confusing at literally every level. Firstly, digital downloads – originally entirely illegal – meant that record labels and artists no longer had any control as to how their music was accessed by the general public. Thousands and even millions of people could gain access to a particular song or album and not pay a cent for it, this, of course, led to Napster being taken off-line and the thousands of legal challenges that followed.
Additionally, with streaming services and digital radio stations, policing the usage of songs became even more difficult. Streaming services such as Spotify have spent numerous hours and millions of dollars in court defending themselves against copyright breaches, and this is not an unusual occurrence.
The MMA is designed in such a way that it will make the entire process of listening to music more transparent. Through a collective agreement, no further negotiation is required by musicians and producers beyond sending a particular piece of copyrighted music out into the world. Where, in the past, registered music led to a shortfall of ridiculously small payments, the new agreement means that if you created music, and it is used for commercial purposes, you are entitled to be paid for it. Importantly, the MMA also protects the streaming services, radio stations and other commercial entities. Where, in the past, companies could be aggressively pursued from a legal standpoint, as long as fees are paid directly to the collective, both the organisation and associated parties are entirely safe. Of course, this also means that businesses will be more inclined to use more music, and get the most out of their payments.
The MMA is a win for everyone and will mean that pointless legal stashes will be a thing of the past.