Lawmakers will soon introduce a bill dealing with streamlined digital music licensing for subscription services. A House panel has nailed down June 23 and June 30 as dates for debate on the prospectiv

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Lawmakers will soon introduce a bill dealing with streamlined digital music licensing for subscription services. A House panel has nailed down June 23 and June 30 as dates for debate on the prospective legislation.

Talks on the Hill continue as the interested parties -- music publishers, record labels and online music services -- try to provide lawmakers with input on a fair marketplace apparatus to deal with music licensing for digital subscription services.

There are longstanding complaints from music users that the current compulsory mechanical license provision in the Copyright Act's section 115 is antiquated.

Even the Copyright Office agrees. Marybeth Peters, the Register of Copyright, has told lawmakers her office supports an attempt to simplify the requirements for obtaining the compulsory license and create a seamless licensing regime.

Labels have complained that the creaky structure of the current law, requiring the licensing of one song at a time, one publisher at a time, is frustrating the introduction of new products.

Online music services want greater clarity regarding so-called "ephemeral" copies in streams -- they oppose publishers' claims of a mechanical and performance right.

David Israelite, the newly appointed president/CEO of the National Music Publishers Assn., has said his group would consider a blanket license for subscription services. "We're willing to consider everything between the goalposts . . . anything between pure radio and pure sale," he says.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, has held several oversight hearings on the issue.

Smith has also announced an oversight hearing on international trade and intellectual property for May 17, a patent reform bill hearing on May 24 and a review of the Supreme Court's Grokster decision in July before the summer recess.

On the Senate side, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, chairs a reconstituted Intellectual Property Subcommittee within the Judiciary Committee. Insiders expect he and ranking member Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to forge a bill dealing with peer-to-peer "bad players" once the Supreme Court hands down its decision on the liability of P2P services in the Grokster case.