A bipartisan group of senators led by Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, recently introduced the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service & Important Contributions to Society Act, or CLASSICS Act, which would ensure that recording artists from the pre-1972 music eras are fairly compensated when their music is played digitally.

For historical reasons, sound recordings made before Feb. 15, 1972, are governed by state, not federal, law. And, in recent years, this oddity has led to disputes as to the scope of state law rights when sound recordings are performed by digital music services. The CLASSICS Act would correct that oddity by bringing those pre-1972 sound recordings into the federal system, thus allowing the artists and owners of such recordings to be fairly compensated when their music is digitally transmitted.

In addition to Coons and Kennedy, the CLASSICS Act is co-sponsored by Sens. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina; Bob Corker, R-Tennessee; and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey.

“The music performed and recorded by artists before February 15, 1972 is an important part of our shared cultural heritage. It’s the music many of us listened to growing up on records and cassettes, and it simply is not fair that when we listen to that music today on digital platforms, those legacy artists are not compensated even though their modern counterparts are,” said Coons. “I’m pleased to join my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to introduce the CLASSICS Act and fix this long-standing disparity, and I thank the many different segments of the music industry that have worked hard to achieve this consensus solution.”