us copyright and licensing laws

You may have noticed a very dumb thing happening recently, which was Kanye West‘s bizarre visit to the White House to meet with President Donald Trump. The whole thing is very dumb, and you shouldn’t let it distract you from actual things of substance that matter in this world and are more worth your attention.

There was an actual reason why Kanye was in the Oval Office, however, and that was to be part of the signing of the Music Modernization Act. Kid Rock, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, Sam Moore of Sam and Dave, and John Rich of Big & Rich were also on hand for the signing as well.

The act flew through both the House and Senate and serves to bring some simple, and much needed, updates to U.S. copyright and licensing laws to adapt to a digital world. The act’s intention is to increase the often-anemic royalties artists make for their songs’ streams online.

The act will also create a single licensing database, called the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), that will make it easier to identify who owns the rights to what piece of music. The MLC will be the system by which artists not only get paid enough for the use of their work, but also receive that payment at all.

The act also includes the Allocation for Music Producers Act, which functions to also pay those behind the scenes who often have just as much a role in the creation of a song as the artists themselves.

“As we celebrate the harmony and unity that got us here, we applaud the efforts of the thousands of performers, songwriters, and studio professionals who rallied for historic change to ensure all music creators are compensated fairly when their work is used by digital and satellite music services,” said Neil Portnow, President and CEO of the Recording Academy. “We thank the members of Congress who championed this issue throughout the past several years to bring music law into the 21st century.”

This is an important hurdle and a no-brainer update to U.S. copyright and licensing laws that took way too long to actually realize. Let’s hope it’s implemented to the full spirit of the act, so music creators actually get paid.