Home > DocuBase > Article

« All DocuBase Articles


Friday, 29th January 2016

Money for Something: Music Licensing in the 21st Century

Source: Congressional Research Service via Federation of American Scientists

From Summary:

The laws that determine who pays whom in the digital world were written, by and large, at a time when music was primarily performed via radio broadcasts or distributed through physical media (such as sheet music and phonograph records), and when each of these forms of music delivery represented a distinct channel with unique characteristics. With the emergence of the Internet, Congress updated some copyright laws in the 1990s. It applied one set of legal provisions to digital services it viewed as akin to radio broadcasts and another set to digital services it viewed as akin to physical media. Since that time consumers have increasingly been consuming music via digital services that incorporate attributes of both radio and physical media. However, companies that compete in enabling consumers to access music may face very different costs to license music, depending on the technology they use and the features they offer. These differences in technology and features also affect the amount of money received by songwriters, performers, music publishers, and record companies.

U.S. copyright law allows performers and record labels to collectively designate an agent to receive payments and to negotiate the licensing fees that certain types of digital music services must pay to stream music to their customers...

Members have introduced several bills in the 114th Congress that would change the amounts various participants in the music industry pay or receive in royalties. These bills are controversial, as they could alter the cost structures and revenues of broadcast radio stations, songwriters, performers, and others at a time when the music industry’s overall revenues are not growing. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is continuing a review of consent decrees it entered into with music publishers in the 1940s. The outcome could affect the extent to which songwriters can control the use of their works.

+ Direct link to document (PDF; 1.1 MB)



Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

Please note: DocuTicker's editors collect citations for full-text PDF reports freely available on the web but we do not archive these reports. When you click a link to find and/or download the report, you are leaving the DocuTicker site. DocuTicker makes no representations regarding the ongoing availability of any report or any external resource. Links were accurate as of the date of posting.

« All DocuBase Articles



Article Categories

All Article Categories »


All DocuBase Sources »

Source Categories

All Source Categories »


All Archives »