The U.S. Copyright Office may be about the change the face of music licensing as we know it.

U.S. Copyright Office to update music licensing

February 7, 2015 10:05 am Published by Leave your thoughts

The U.S. Copyright Office may be about the change the face of music licensing as we know it. Last week the government agency released a 245-page report proposing a number of far-reaching alterations to existing laws.

The changes intend to bring outmoded laws into the modern day, and allow for more flexibility in licensing. Most of the copyright laws have been unchanged since the time player pianos became popular, says Hollywood Reporter. The regulations have been developed over a huge technology book, including the creation of the radio, new recording devices, digital networks and the internet.

Maria Pallente, director of the Copyright Office, stated, "The structures that evolved in the previous century to facilitate the lawful exploitation of musical works and sound recordings, while perhaps adequate for the era of discs and tapes, are under significant stress. From a copyright perspective, we are trying to deliver bits and bytes through a Victrola."

The proposals are bound to spark controversy and fierce debate. The report outlines a number of changes, including giving online distributors the power to opt out of deals, extending modern copyright laws to music recorded before 1972, and closing a loophole that allows terrestrial radio stations to play music without paying performance royalties. Artists, songwriters and producers would gain the most from these new rules, through increased control over their music and greater royalty payouts.

While the proposals are undoubtedly radical, the U.S Copyright Office made sure to emphasize that they were not attempting to reinvent the wheel by changing the music industry drastically. The report called such a move "logistically and politically unrealistic," adding that the changes would simply improve regulations already in place.

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