[The Copyright Office is asking for public comments on best practices for dealing with the black box as part of the “Unclaimed Royalties Study” mandated by the Music Modernization Act. We are posting comments or excerpts from comments that we found interesting. You can find other the posted comments here.
This post is from SoundExchange’s filing. I have to say that I have long been impressed by SoundExchange’s problem-solving abilities and commitment to get artists paid. SoundExchange sets the standard that The MLC will be measured by and should try to live up to. Unfortunately, The MLC’s selection of HFA as their data vendor immediately means The MLC is unlikely to have a functioning much less accurate database by the January deadline. They should really pay attention to SoundExchange’s example.]
Through its experience, SoundExchange has identified and embraced certain core
strategies for administering a blanket license that have had the direct effect of minimizing the incidence of unclaimed royalties. First, a collective must act with a total commitment to transparency and accountability.
Second, to the extent possible, a collective must build systems and practices around standard unique identifiers, which are the best way to manage the huge volume of usage and repertoire data that a collective receives in the digital age.
Third, in building its systems and practices, a collective should rigorously distinguish between repertoire data and usage reporting data, and base the repertoire database on data from authoritative sources, typically rights owners. Fourth, it is essential for a collective administering a statutory license to prioritize education and outreach to those who will receive royalties under the blanket license because the collective represents all payees, not just those who have the sophistication or knowledge to register with the collective in the first place. While no system will ever be perfect, a collective that embraces and implements these core strategies will be best positioned to minimize unclaimed royalties. We address each in more detail below.
A. Commit to transparency and accountability
As a collective, it is critical for SoundExchange to commit to transparency and
accountability. We must be responsive to our stakeholders – the people we pay, who have
entrusted us to collect a critical component of their income. As a baseline, a collective must be governed by those it pays. As a next level, a collective must provide tools to stakeholders that give them transparency into how their royalties are collected and distributed, and a means for providing feedback on the metadata associated with their works.
SoundExchange has adopted a policy and practice of continuous improvement. Most
recently, SoundExchange has rolled out new features in SoundExchange Direct, our online account management portal that allows recording artists and rights owners to navigate their digital performance rights and royalties. SoundExchange Direct allows users to manage multiple SoundExchange accounts and add guest users, update account information including contact and payment or banking information, view payment history and revenue data by top recordings and top services and, most relevant here, upload and manage their repertoire data.