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US music bodies welcome progress of Music Modernization Act

The US Music Modernization Act (MMA) has taken its next step towards becoming law, with a unanimous vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve it.

Not without changes, however: the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) noted that the bill now includes “increased oversight and ensure greater transparency in the operation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective” that’s being set up, as well as clauses to “promote communication between the Department of Justice and Congress regarding any future changes to the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees”.

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ASCAP / BMI database plans are already sparking a row

ASCAP and BMI are fielding criticism for not including other US performing rights organisations (PROs) in their partnership to create a new database of song rights.

Sesac and Global Music Rights are both currently not involved in the project, and that has drawn a cross response from member of the US House of Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner, who has been playing a prominent role in American politicians’ latest drive to regulate music-industry licensing practices.

“Despite claims from BMI and ASCAP that they have been working on this joint database for the past year, they have made no effort to cooperate with Members of Congress on the issue,” said Sensenbrenner in a statement.

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ASCAP says YouTube deal will boost its video payouts

When YouTube appointed Lyor Cohen as its head of music – and again recently when it poached SoundCloud content boss Stephen Bryan – there were cautious hopes expressed within the music industry that Google’s video service is showing signs of genuine motivation to improve its standing with rightsholders.

Although of course, this has not dented the industry’s lobbying efforts on safe harbour and the ‘value gap’ between YouTube music consumption and its payouts.

Now YouTube-watchers have something else to pore over: a new licensing agreement announced yesterday with American collecting society ASCAP.