[This post first appeared on MusicTech.Solutions]
By Chris Castle
If you’ve been following the heated controversy around the frozen mechanicals crisis, you’ll know that the Copyright Royalty Board has received a proposal from the NMPA, NSAI and the major labels to freeze the statutory rate for songwriter mechanical royalties on physical (like CDs and vinyl) and permanent downloads (like iTunes) for another five years. That proposal mentions a settlement to establish the frozen rates (which extends the rates that were first frozen in 2006 for another 5 years) and a memorandum of understanding between the NMPA and the major labels for something, we’re not quite sure what.
There’s quite a bit of material about the problem that was posted on the Trichordist, so you can check there to read up on the background. You can also subscribe to the Artist Rights Watch podcast and listen to our first episode about frozen mechanicals. This post today assumes you already know the background and are ready to file your comment.
Filing comments with the CRB is not quite as simple as filing comments with the Copyright Office and it takes a bit of time–comments close on July 26, so do not leave setting up your account until July 26, or even July 25. I would do it today. You can set up your account before you file your comments so that the account part is all ready to go.
Here are some steps you will probably go through to set up your account:
- Go to app.crb.gov. Look for “Register for an account” (the one in small print at the bottom of the list)
2. “Register for an account” will take you to a sign up page. Scroll down to “User Information”. You only need to complete the required fields with a red star (so ignore the bar number, etc.)
There is a pull down menu under “Register as” with a few different roles listed. The one you want is “Commenter”
3. The CRB will then authenticate your account and send you an email confirmation. That part goes pretty quickly. However, once your account is authenticated, make sure you log on. You should be taken to a dashboard, but the question is whether your dashboard looks like this:
Note that the dashboard does not have a button to “File a comment”. If this is what you see when you log into your account, you are not done. Contact the CRB support people email@example.com and tell them that your account has not been activated to comment.
4. Your account should look like this:
The comment you want to file is for Phonorecords IV. You can ignore the other dockets. It took me several trips to the support desk to get the correct filing tabs on my account, hopefully you won’t have that problem. But–just in case, don’t be running around crazy on July 26 trying to file the comment you slaved over because you left the account to the last minute.