Monday, August 6, 2018

SESAC Reaches Compromise With Songwriters

Songwriters and music publishers have struck a compromise with SESAC that puts the Music Modernization Act back on the fast track to becoming law this year, reports The Tennsessean.

The Music Modernization Act, the first substantial copyright reform legislation to advance in Congress in decades, hit a speed bump last week with the revelation that SESAC, the nation's third largest performance rights organization, wanted to amend the bill.

SESAC took issues with the provision of the bill that would create a new organization to administer, collect and distribute digital mechanical royalties. SESAC, a private company owned by the investment firm Blackstone, already owns a company that does such administrative work. That led SESAC to propose amending the bill to allow firms like Harry Fox to provide administration work.

The SESAC proposal came after the Music Modernization Act unanimously cleared the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee, in addition to garnering 43 bipartisan cosponsors.

Advocates of the legislation, led by the Nashville Songwriters Association International and prominent artists such as Maren Morris and Jason Isbell blasted SESAC for its late-inning amendment proposal.

Under a deal brokered on Thursday, the legislation will be changed to effectively keep the new collective out of the business of handling other areas of licensing. In addition to digital mechanical licensing, the legislation would have allowed the collective to handle synchronization and other licenses.

With this new deal in place, the collective will only handle digital mechanical licenses.

SESAC Chairman and CEO John Josephson said that all parties went to the negotiating table at the encouragement of the Senators closely involved in the legislation.

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