What is Apple Music Up to with the MLC?

You may have received this notice from HFA Client Services with the subject line “APPLE LEGAL NOTICE OF TERMINATION OF AGREEMENT” which a vigilant reader sent to us:

What is interesting about this is the opening paragraph:Dear Publisher, Reference is hereby made to that certain Subscription, Lyrics, and Cloud Services License Agreement or Subscription and Cloud Services License Agreement (the “Agreement”) between Apple Inc. (“Apple” or “we”) and the publishing entity with which you are affiliated (“Publisher” or “you”)In support of the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act and the significant benefits this new legislation is expected to deliver to music publishers and songwriters, we intend to move our licensing and royalty administration for Apple Music to the MLC starting from January 1, 2021.Accordingly, we hereby notify you that Apple has elected, pursuant to the Agreement, to terminate the Agreement, effective December 31, 2020. If you have never entered into such an agreement with Apple you may disregard this notice.

Focus on that “lyrics” and “cloud services” part.  The MMA blanket license does not cover lyrics or cloud services.  That means that Apple is out of contract with the publisher concerned because they terminated the agreement.  They cannot get those rights under the blanket.

Then notice that Apple says, “we intend to move our licensing and royalty administration for Apple Music to the MLC”.  The MLC cannot license outside the blanket to my knowledge.

But also realize that Apple are not stupid, so this must mean something.  We’re looking into it.

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Trichordist Editor