[The Future of Music Coalition joins the chorus of concern about shenanigans at The MLC, Inc. with special access and treatment of its vendors regarding the “public” database. As others have pointed out, there’s a real question as to whether The MLC, Inc. is actually building its own database or is just building up the data muscle of its vendor the Harry Fox Agency (formerly owned by MLC promoter and nonvoting board member NMPA. The MLC is prohibited by law from licensing other than the narrow window of streaming mechanicals, but HFA is not.]
[I]t’s important that MLC’s chosen vendors not be able to leverage their
status with the MLC to advantage themselves in other business activities not covered under the MMA. If a vendor was able to leverage its status with MLC to the detriment of competitors in other kinds of licensing activity (even informally), that wouldn’t serve competition, consumers, or creators. Additionally, the Office needs to ensure that provisions about database vendors being replaceable are meaningful.
We see no reason to expect that the MLC’s chosen vendors aren’t up to the task, but songwriters and composers need assurance that if a vendor ends up having problems and a change is necessary, that change will really be possible.
The Office can require the MLC to disclose what it is doing to prevent any vendor from being too operationally enmeshed with the MLC that it either enjoys an unfair advantage through that relationship, or that it would be practically impossible for another vendor to step in.
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One thought on “Future of Music Coalition Warns Against Vendor Lock-in in Copyright Office Comments”
Thanks for writing about our comment. Here’s a small clarification: our comments aren’t meant to express concern about “shenanigans” or suggest that anyone at the MLC or any vendor is operating in bad faith. Others may feel differently, but no one at the MLC has given us any reason to suspect problems.
Rather, our comments emphasize the importance of simple regulatory safeguards to proactively eliminate any need to worry about such shenanigans, and help everyone have confidence in the system. That’s a good outcome for every stakeholder.
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