U.S. Copyright Office Approves Mechanical Licensing Collective Sponsored by NMPA

July 10, 2019

The U.S. Copyright Office has designated the group led by the National Music Publishers Assn. (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters Assn. International (NSAI), and the Songwriters of North America (SONA) to build and operate the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) under the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA).

According to a post on the Copyright Office's website, “the office looks forward to working with these entities and other stakeholders as the MMA implementation process continues.”

The MMA directs the Register of Copyrights to designate a nonprofit entity operated by copyright owners as the MLC, which will administer the statute’s new blanket compulsory licensing system for digital music providers beginning on January 1, 2021. Among other duties, the MLC will be responsible for receiving usage reports from digital music providers, collecting and distributing royalties, and administering a process by which copyright owners can claim ownership of musical works (and shares of such works). The MMA also authorizes the Register to designate an entity as the DLC, which will represent digital music services in the administration of the license.

“This has been a long, deliberative process and we are pleased with the result,” NMPA president/CEO David Israelite said in a statement. “The Copyright Office set a high bar and the team behind the MLC submission was transparent, thorough and representative of the entire music publishing and songwriting community. We look forward to seeing the benefits of the Music Modernization Act come to fruition. As we now move to the funding phase, it is critical that the digital services commit to supporting the MLC properly and become more transparent, starting with disclosing the amount of unmatched money currently at their companies.”

With the new designation, the MLC will formally begin operations, which includes negotiation of a budget with the digital streaming services who, by law, must fund the collective. The MLC will also partner with a vendor to provide administration and matching services and development of a user portal through which publishers and songwriters will be able to manage rights and royalties.”

ASCAP Board member and SONA executive director Michelle Lewis said in a statement: “SONA would like to thank Karyn Temple and the US Copyright Office for their efforts and their expertise, and we welcome the designation of the coalition-led MLC as the chosen licensing collective.”

The designated MLC’s board includes chairman Alisa Coleman (ABKCO) and directors Jeff Brabec (BMG); Peter Brodsky (Sony/ATV); Bob Bruderman (Kobalt); Tim Cohan (peermusic); Scott Cutler (Pulse Music Group); Paul Kahn (Warner/Chappell Music); David Kokakis (UMPG); Mike Molinar (Big Machine Music); Evelyn Paglinawan (Concord Music); Kara DioGuardi (Songs by KDG); Oak Felder (Crow’s Tree Publishing); Kevin Kadish (We Are Made of Music); and Tim Nichols (THiS Music).

Non-voting members include NMPA executive vp & GC Danielle Aguirre and NSAI executive director Bart Herbison.