Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced a proposal this week to establish a database of licensing information for musical works and sound recordings.

The Transparency in Music Licensing Ownership Act is meant to help anyone using music look up the licensing status of the music to determine how they could use it legally.

“Across the country, businesses and establishments play or perform music for the enjoyment of their patrons, but the process of ensuring they are legally able to do so, as well as those who hold the license to the music or recordings being played are fairly compensated, is convoluted and difficult,” said a release from Sensenbrenner’s office. “Because of this onerous process, business owners often struggle to obtain the correct licensing, leaving them vulnerable to lawsuits, as well as increased licensing fees.”

After more than 20 hearings and an extensive open comment period, Sensenbrenner’s office said there is overwhelming support to modernize copyright laws and make them easier to follow.

“When it comes to rules and regulations, simpler is always better,” Sensenbrenner said. “Streamlining the music licensing process into one, easily accessible database is a straightforward way to help our nation’s business owners while ensuring copyright owners are fairly compensated for their work.”

Some of the key provisions of the Transparency in Music Licensing Ownership Act include:

  • Requiring 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.
  • Ensuring 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.
  • 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.

The legislation is cosponsored by Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), and Steve Chabot (R-OH).

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association supports the proposal and thanks Rep. Sensenbrenner for his support of Wisconsin’s local broadcasters. NAB also supports the proposal.

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