Music License Database Bill Introduced in House

It is rush hour on Tin Pan Alley, at least when it comes to music license-related legislation.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) has introduced the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act, which would create a database for music and sound recordings.

The bill would make it easier for businesses, restaurants and other establishments that play or perform music to identify the copyright holders so they can be fairly compensated.

The bill would: 1) "Require the Register of Copyrights to establish and maintain a current informational database of musical works and sound recordings while granting the Register authority to hire employees and contractors, promulgate regulations, and spend appropriated funds necessary and appropriate to carry out these functions"; 2) "Ensure that the database is made publicly accessible by the Copyright Office, in its entirety and  without charge, and in a format that reflects current technological practices, and that is updated on a real-time basis; and 3) "Limit the remedies available to a copyright owner or authorized party to bring an infringement action for violation of the exclusive right to perform publicly, reproduce or distribute a musical work or sound recording if that owner/ authorized party has failed to provide or maintain the minimum information required in the database."

“Restaurants need a licensing system that’s transparent and fair," said Laura Chadwick, Director of Commerce & Entrepreneurship, National Restaurant Association. "We thank Congressman Sensenbrenner for the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act which will provide restaurants with a reliable tool to determine which licenses best fit their music needs.”

The database bill was introduced the same day that Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill to establish copyright protections for performances of pre-1972 musical works. 

"The Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act is a major step forward in creating a music licensing system that is open and accessible to those who both own and license music," said The MIC Coalition. "The proposed legislation would create for the first time a public database that provides all stakeholders in the music marketplace with access to authoritative and fully searchable records of music ownership and licensing information, free-of-charge to users and updated in real-time."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.