Designation of Mechanical Licensing Collective

Pursuant to the Musical Works Modernization Act, title I of the recently-enacted Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA), the U.S. Copyright Office has issued a notice of inquiry seeking public comment regarding the designation of a mechanical licensing collective and a digital licensee coordinator to carry out key functions under the updated mechanical licensing process.

The Musical Works Modernization Act modified the existing section 115 “mechanical” license for reproduction and distribution of musical works in phonorecords (which was previously obtained by licensees on a per-work, song-by-song basis) to establish a new blanket license for digital music providers to engage in specific covered activities (namely, permanent downloads, limited downloads, and interactive streaming).

Pursuant to section 115(d)(3), as amended, the Register of Copyrights will designate an entity as the mechanical licensing collective (MLC) to administer the blanket license and distribute collected royalties to songwriters and music publishers. The newly created mechanical licensing collective will be tasked with developing and maintaining a database of musical works and sound recordings, which will be publicly available and is expected to become the most comprehensive database in the music industry.

The Register of Copyrights will designate an entity as the digital licensee coordinator (DLC), which will represent digital music services in the administration of the license and in the determination of the administrative assessment fee paid by digital music providers for the reasonable costs of establishing and operating the new MLC.

The Office solicited information to identify the appropriate entity to be designated as the MLC and DLC. Initial written comments in response to the notice of inquiry published on December 21, 2018 were due on March 21, 2019. Written reply comments were due on April 22, 2019.