Copyright Royalty Board Responds to Coalition of Songwriter Groups on Frozen Mechanicals

A group of songwriter organizations from around the world wrote to the Copyright Royalty Board last week opposing a proposed private “settlement” between the major labels and the major publishers to freeze mechanical rates on physical and downloads at the 9.1¢ 2006 rate that was filed in the current Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) rate court hearing called “Phonorecords IV”. (You can find the entire list of filings in the case here.)

The twist here is that if the CRB approves the private settlement at the request of “the parties” and doesn’t take into account the views and evidence of people who actually write songs and have to earn a living from songwriting, it will be grotesquely unfair and possibly unconstitutional wage and price control. The CRB will have frozen the mechanical rate for physical and downloads at the 2006 rate when inflation alone has eaten away the buying power of that royalty by approximately 30%. This would be like the Minerals Management Service adopting a settlement written by Exxon.

On average–on average–the physical and download configuration make up 15% of billing for the majors and for some artists vinyl is a welcome change from fractions of a penny on streaming. And then there’s Record Store Day–hello? These are a couple of the many reasons anyone who is paying attention should reject the terms of the settlement.

US Revenue by Source 2020

The Coalition had a simple ask: Let the public comment:

In the interests of justice and fairness, we respectfully implore the CRB to adopt and publicize a period and opportunity for public comment on the record in these and other proceedings,especially in regard to so-called proposed “industry settlements” in which creators and other interested parties have had no opportunity to meaningfully participate prior to their presentation to the CRB for consideration, modification or rejection. In the present case, hundreds of millions of dollars of our future royalties remain at stake, even in a diminished market for traditional, mechanical uses of music. To preclude our ability to comment on proposals that ultimately impact our incomes, our careers, and our families, simply isn’t fair.

The Copyright Royalty Board responded! According to our sources, the Copyright Royalty Board said that they would publish the private settlement in the Federal Register and give the pubic the chance to comment. This is great news!

But we will see what they actually do. The Copyright Royalty Board does not have a great track record in understanding songwriter interests in raising the mechanical rates as we can see in this except from their final rule freezing mechanicals again in 2009:

Copyright Owners’ argument with respect to this objective is that songwriters and music publishers rely on mechanical royalties and both have suffered from the decline in mechanical income. Under the current rate, they contend, songwriters have difficulty supporting themselves and their families. As one songwriter witness explained, “The vast majority of professional songwriters live a perilous existence.” [Rick] Carnes [Testimony] at 3. [Rick Carnes signed the Coalition letter as President of the Songwriters Guild of America.] We acknowledge that the songwriting occupation is financially tenuous for many songwriters. However, the reasons for this are many and include the inability of a songwriter to continue to generate revenue-producing songs, competing obligations both professional and personal, the current structure of the music industry, and piracy. The mechanical rates alone neither can nor should seek to address all of these issues.

We simply do not accept that the Founders put the Copyright Clause in the Constitution so creators could have a side hustle for their Uber driving which is exactly where frozen mechanicals take you, particularly after the structural unemployment in the music business caused by the COVID lockdowns.

Here is a summary of who is for and who is against frozen mechanicals.

Against Frozen MechanicalsProposing Frozen Mechanicals
Songwriters Guild of AmericaNational Music Publishers Association
Society of Composers and LyricistsNashville Songwriters Association International
Alliance for Women Film Composers 
Songwriters Association of Canada 
Screen Composers Guild of Canada 
Music Creators North America 
Music Answers 
Alliance of Latin American Composers & Authors 
Asia-Pacific Music Creators Alliance 
European Composers and Songwriters Alliance 
Pan African Composers and Songwriters Alliance 

Which side are you on? If you want to write your own comment to the Copyright Royalty Board about frozen mechanicals, send your comment to crb@loc.gov

Coalition of Songwriter Groups Call on Copyright Royalty Board for Fairness and Transparency on Frozen Mechanicals

[Editor T says this is a letter from a coalition of US and international songwriter groups to the Copyright Royalty Board about the frozen mechanical issue. If you want to write your own comment to the Copyright Royalty Board about frozen mechanicals, send your comment to crb@loc.gov]

MUSIC CREATORS
NORTH AMERICA

May 17, 2021

Via Electronic Delivery

Chief Copyright Royalty Judge Jesse M. Feder
Copyright Royalty Judge David R. Strickler
Copyright Royalty Judge Steve Ruwe
US Copyright Royalty Board
101 Independence Ave SE / P.O. Box 70977
Washington, DC 20024-0977

To Your Honors:

As a US-led coalition representing hundreds of thousands of songwriters and composers from across the United States and around the world, we are writing today to express our deep concerns over the “Notice of Settlement in Principle” recently filed by parties to the proceedings before the Copyright Royalty Board concerning its Determination of Royalty Rates and Terms for Making and Distributing Phonorecords (Phonorecords IV) (Docket No. 21–CRB–0001–PR<(2023–2027)). For reasons explained below, several highly conflicted parties to this proceeding have apparently agreed to propose a rolling forward to the year 2027 of the current US statutory mechanical royalty rate for the use of musical compositions in the manufacture and sale of physical phonorecords (such as CDs and vinyl records). This proposal (and related industry agreements yet to be disclosed by the parties— see, https://app.crb.gov/document/download/23825) should neither be acted upon nor accepted by the CRB without the opportunity for public comment, especially by members of the broad community of music creators for whom it is financially unfeasible to participate in these proceedings as interested parties. It is our livelihoods that are at stake, and we respectfully ask to be heard even though we lack the economic means to appear formally as parties. If procedures are already in place to accommodate this request, we look forward receiving the CRB’s instructions as to how to proceed.

The current U.S statutory mechanical rate for physical phonorecords is 9.1 cents per musical composition for each copy manufactured and distributed. That rate has been in effect since January 1, 2006. It represents the high-water mark for US mechanical royalty rates applicable to physical products, a rate first established in 1909 at 2 cents. That 2-cent royalty rate, in one of the most damaging and egregious acts in music industry history, remained unchanged for an astonishing period of sixty-nine years, until 1978. Nevertheless, the recording industry now seeks  to repeat that history by freezing the 9.1 cent rate for an era that will have exceeded twenty years by the end of the Phonorecords IV statutory rate setting period.

Inflation has already devalued the 9.1 cent rate by approximately one third. By 2027, 9.1 cents may be worth less than half of what it was in 2006. How can the US music publishing industry’s trade association, and a single music creator organization (which represents at most only a tiny sliver of the music creator community) have agreed to such a proposal?

The answer to that question is an easy one to surmise. The three major record companies who negotiated the deal on one side of the table have the same corporate parents as the most powerful members of the music publishing community ostensibly sitting on the other side of the table. Songwriter, composer and independent music publisher interests in these “negotiations” were given little if any consideration, and the proposed settlement was clearly framed without any meaningful consultation with the wider independent music creator and music publishing communities, both domestically and internationally.

How on earth can these parties be relied upon to present a carefully reasoned, arms-length “Settlement in Principle” proposal to the CRB under such circumstances, fraught as they are with conflicts of interest, without at least an opportunity for public comment? Further, how can these parties be relied upon in the future to argue persuasively that mechanical royalty rates applicable to on-demand digital distribution need to be increased as a matter of economic fairness (which they most certainly should be), when they refuse to seriously conduct negotiations on rates applicable to the physical product the distribution of which is still controlled by record companies (who not so incidentally also receive the lion’s share of music industry revenue generated by digital distribution of music)?

The ugly precedent of frozen mechanical royalty rates on physical product has, in fact, already served as the basis for freezing permanent digital download royalty rates since 2006. Is this the transparency and level playing field the community of songwriters and composers have been promised by Congress through legislation enacted pursuant to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution?

The trade association for the US music publishing industry is supported by the dues of its music publisher members, the costs of which are often in large part passed along to the music creators affiliated with such publishers. It is thus mainly the songwriter and composer community that pays for the activities of that publisher trade association, a reality that has existed since that organization’s inception. Still, the genuine voice of those songwriters and composers is neither being sought nor heard. Further in that regard, we wish to make it emphatically clear that regardless of how the music publishing industry and its affiliated trade associations may present themselves, they do not speak for the interests of music creators, and regularly adopt positions that are in conflict with the welfare of songwriters and composers. Their voice is not synonymous with ours.

Unfortunately, the music creator community lacks the independent financial resources –in the age of continuing undervaluation of rights, rampant digital piracy and pandemic-related losses–to rectify these inequities by expending millions more dollars to achieve full participation in CRB legal and rate-setting proceedings. Clearly, such an inequitable situation is antithetical to sound Governmental oversight in pursuit of honest and equitable policies and results.

In the interests of justice and fairness, we respectfully implore the CRB to adopt and publicize a period and opportunity for public comment on the record in these and other proceedings,especially in regard to so-called proposed “industry settlements” in which creators and other interested parties have had no opportunity to meaningfully participate prior to their presentation to the CRB for consideration, modification or rejection. In the present case, hundreds of millions of dollars of our future royalties remain at stake, even in a diminished market for traditional, mechanical uses of music. To preclude our ability to comment on proposals that ultimately impact our incomes, our careers, and our families, simply isn’t fair.

Finally, we request that this letter be made a part of the public record of the Phonorecords IV
proceedings. We extend our sincere thanks for your attention to this very difficult conundrum
for music creators, and further note that your consideration is very much appreciated.

Respectfully submitted,

Rick Carnes
President, Songwriters Guild of America

Ashley Irwin
President, Society of Composers and Lyricists
Officer, Music Creators North America Co-Chair, Music Creators North America

List of Supporting Organizations
Songwriters Guild of America (SGA), https://www.songwritersguild.com/site/index.php
Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL), https://thescl.com
Alliance for Women Film Composers (AWFC). https://theawfc.com
Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC), http://www.songwriters.ca
Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC), https://screencomposers.ca
Music Creators North America (MCNA), https://www.musiccreatorsna.org
Music Answers (M.A.), https://www.musicanswers.org
Alliance of Latin American Composers & Authors (ALCAMusica), https://www.alcamusica.org
Asia-Pacific Music Creators Alliance (APMA), https://apmaciam.wixsite.com/home/news
European Composers and Songwriters Alliance (ECSA), https://composeralliance.org
Pan-African Composers and Songwriters Alliance (PACSA), http://www.pacsa.org

cc: Ms. Carla Hayden, US Librarian of Congress
Ms. Shira Perlmutter, US Register of Copyrights
Mr. Alfons Karabuda, President, International Music Council
Mr. Eddie Schwartz, President, MCNA and International Council of Music Creators (CIAM)
The MCNA Board of Directors
The Members of the US Senate and House Sub-Committees on Intellectual Property
Charles J. Sanders, Esq.

Guest Post: What Would @TaylorSwift13 and Eddie @cue Do? One solution to the frozen mechanical problem

By Chris Castle [this post first appeared on the MusicTechSolutions blog]

Who can forget how Taylor Swift stood up for songwriters, producers and artists against Apple’s bizarre decision to impose a royalty-free three month trial period on the launch of Apple Music. (Of course, songwriters, producers and artists weren’t the only ones involved, but that’s a story for another day.)

What is equally memorable is how fast Apple changed course and all the goodwill that came to Apple as a result. Faster than you can say “Arsenal”, Eddie Cue announced that Apple would scale it back. Lemonade out of lemons. Of course, the issue should have been obvious, but sometimes smart people miss the point like everyone does sometimes. (Rolling Stone has a good short post on the backstory.)

The point of the story is that when you make a mistake, it’s better to fix it quickly than let it fester. So it is with the “frozen mechanical” problem that has become all the rage in recent days. The good news is the problem can be solved with the payment of money. It won’t be easy, but as a great man once said, this is the business we’ve chosen.

The Copyright Royalty Board decides on the statutory rate that’s paid under compulsory content licenses in the United States. For mechanical royalties, the CRB makes that decision every five years which means that if there isn’t a CRB hearing going on at any given moment, wait a little while and there will be one. (Needless to say, the volume of CRB hearings varies directly with full employment for lawyers and lobbyists in Washington, DC.) The “frozen mechanical” issue dates back to 2006 (or 2009 depending on how you count it) when the CRB allowed the end of rising mechanical royalty rates on physical and permanent downloads (and a couple others). However, the sour memories of frozen mechanicals date to 1909–also a story for another day.

Instead, the CRB has allowed a private agreement among the biggest players to become the law. This has happened at least one other time and it appears that it is about to happen again according to public documents filed with the CRB on March 2, 2021 (read it here). Contrast that private agreement to the bitter struggle against the streaming services over streaming mechanicals that is still in the appeal process. Different people paying, same songwriters getting paid.

If you haven’t heard about the tentative settlement by private agreement at the CRB, it admittedly was not well socialized.

The inescapable problem is that any fixed or “frozen” rate determined at one point in time but paid over relatively long periods of time is at the mercy of inflation in the economy that may rise in that intervening time period. The Congress and the industry recognized this harsh truth in the 1976 revision to the Copyright Act and eventually indexed mechanical rates, meaning that they floated upward with the Consumer Price Index. (CPI has its own problems, but it’s a bogey that lots of people use so it’s easier than reinventing the wheel with a bespoke factor.)

Given what has been happening in the economy, it was inevitable that inflation was about to come back strong in the U.S. and global economy. Sure enough, the Department of Labor announced yesterday:

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.8 percent in April on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.6 percent in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 4.2 percent before seasonal adjustment. This is the largest 12-month increase since a 4.9-percent increase for the period ending September 2008.

Yes, the CPI ignored the Fed and increased like the pesky little devil it is. There’s no reason to think that this is going to stop any time soon. (If you were born after 1960 or so, you may not remember that inflation and stagflation resulted in the prime interest rate peaking at 21.5% in December of 1980. That drove mortgage rates to 13.41% in 1981 (often plus points). And then there were the credit cards. That’s where inflation can lead. Personally, my money is on stagflation in the form of high inflation and high unemployment due to what Secretary Yellen called the scarring effects of the pandemic which the music business is experiencing in spades.)

April 2021 DOL Inflation

It just wouldn’t be prudent to enter into a long term contract at a fixed rate that does not take into account inflation. Yet that is exactly what the tentative settlement wants to do with the mechanical rate for physical, downloads, and a couple other categories. Yet, we must acknowledge that it is very difficult to herd the cats to get them to agree to anything. But having gotten everyone to agree to freezing mechanicals and having gotten the CRB to agree to adopt that agreement in the past, it may be the case that the parties can get the CRB to let them increase mechanicals going forward.

In other words, take a lesson from Taylor Swift and Eddie Cue and do a quick course correction before the final settlement gets announced on May 18.

So what would that look like? Precedent suggests that the CRB (and its predecessors) have accepted two principal methods of increasing the rate, which is phased in over time: fixed penny-rate increases and CPI indexing. My suggestion would be to employ both methods in a greater of formula (so popular with streaming).

If phased in over 5 years like other rates, it seems that there could be an immediate step up to compensate songwriters for a rate was frozen starting at the time that physical was still a very significant percentage of sales back in 2006. That stepped up rate could then gradually increase with a greater of a fixed penny increase or CPI. I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone what that step up should be, but if you apply the CPI index, it should probably be about 4¢, bringing the minimum rate to 13¢ from 9.1¢. Given that big–albeit entirely justified–jump, increases over the out years might be more modest.

Now that we know that there’s a strong possibility that inflation will be in our lives for the foreseeable future, the good news is there’s still time to do something about it. The CRB has shown us that they are willing to accept radical changes in the mechanical royalty rate by adopting private settlements, so there seems to be no impediment. I’m not aware of a rule that says the CRB only adopts rules that freeze songwriters in place, so it should work to the songwriters betterment and not just to their detriment.

We should ask, what would Taylor and Eddie do?

1100 German Artists Say “The Horror Has No End” About Germany’s New Copyright Law

More than 1100 artists tell the German government: “The horror has no end”

For years we have seen massive encroachments on our artistic freedoms in favor of globally operating digital corporations. This anti-artist prioritization is also reflected in the federal government’s current draft law on the new copyright law.

As early as November 26, 2020, 657 musicians and bands made an appeal, “Do not play copyright against us!” to politicians. That paper disappeared into the drawers and the required respect for our artistic work failed to materialize. Instead, there are regular expert hearings with supposedly network experts, not with artists. From their ideological ivory tower they spin out unrealistic censorship scenarios and create the impression that the network is currently “free” and that the deluge of “upload filters” would only be imminent with the implementation of the European Copyright Directive.

We artists are familiar with platform uses because it is our day-to-day business. We know the problems of over- and underblocking firsthand. As a direct target group of global censorship efforts, we are sensitive to the protection of freedom of expression and artistic freedom. For us it is a slap in the face when network activists hijack the freedom narrative with slogans and catchphrases, argue against platform regulation as in the Copyright Directive and thus gain a greater influence than these global corporations already have.

In 2019, we were stunned to see how the SPD voted against the Copyright Directive. We are stunned to see how the SPD-led Federal Ministry of Justice undermines the European compromise. The federal government sent the draft law to the Bundestag [the German federal parliament] almost unchanged – regardless of our ongoing protests and regardless of all our explanations as to why the “Copyright Service Provider Act” in particular is largely unsuitable for practical use. We recognize in the German draft law the intention to thwart individual copyright claims as well as put real license agreements on an equal footing. Instead of creating a level playing field for our existing licensing market, the German special route restricts it to the maximum with the argument of freedom, of all things. Business models of global upload platforms are protected for the purpose of maximum availability of our plants, while our sales channels are torpedoed with a shrug.

Only the Federal Council takes our concerns about expected collateral damage seriously :

“The Federal Council reminds that copyright law is very often the economic basis for cultural and creative workers and the ability to refinance content is one of the essential foundations for media diversity. It therefore asks that, in the further legislative process, a comprehensive check is made as to whether the draft law as a whole exists The revenue and business models of authors and other rights holders in all affected industries (especially music, film, audiovisual, radio, book and press) are disproportionately impaired. […] The Federal Council points out that the effects of the copyright service provider Law on the German copyright market cannot be adequately assessed at the present time.Copyright Service Provider Act) affects various conflicting interests and has sparked a controversial discussion. Numerous critical voices from various business associations can also be found among them. In view of the largely understandable objections, it is proposed that the passage of the law be subject to the evaluation of its effects on the German copyright market at an appropriate interval. Due to the diversity of copyright-based markets such as the cultural and creative industries, it is important to check whether the regulations are appropriate and practicable and whether they actually lead to the intended balancing of interests. “

For all of us, Peter Maffay recently positioned himself in the Süddeutsche Zeitung and brought the problem to the point. He calls for uniform European regulations, the abolition of the – purely German – 15 seconds rule and the responsibility of the upload platforms for the uses that take place there.

The protection of our rights in the digital space is more urgent than ever for many with the measures taken in the corona pandemic and the accompanying existential threat. Upload platforms that generate considerable profits with our works must finally be effectively held responsible and liable. You may not be relieved by the factual reversal of the license responsibility, e.g. by the cumbersome and only subject to considerable legal consequences that can be challenged. The arbitrary and ironically called “minor use” presumption rules on “legally permitted uses” of non-licensed (!) works are a gateway for systematic copyright infringements, in particular our exclusive right to sole exploitation, but also our moral rights.

We want to continue licensing and retain individual control over our work. The European Copyright Directive takes the pressure off non-commercial uploaders and strengthens our ability to enforce law by making upload platforms responsible for ensuring that there is no need to do anything in the few but painful cases of harmful copyright infringements. It is intolerable that our moral right is now being sacrificed on the altar of supposed consumer protection just because those responsible refuse to give up on dubious and untenable promises of an Internet without a filter.

Filters are only necessary where works have expressly not been licensed. It is reasonable that in these cases the presence of a barrier has to be checked in case of doubt. The consolation of a new collecting society does not help us – especially since it is not certain how much and when and on what accounting basis we will receive our investments.

Copyright is our commercial and labor law. We therefore expect from the members of the Bundestag and especially the members of the Legal Affairs Committee:

· The withdrawal of the quantitative presumption rules for legally permitted uses.

· Maintaining the protection of melodies enshrined in copyright law for decades, regardless of the length of the melody.

The withdrawal of the restrictions on direct licensing by indirect rights holders and the compulsory remuneration through collecting societies despite existing licensing and distribution chains.

· A complete, unrestricted right to information about uses of which the platforms can gain knowledge with a reasonable effort.

· A regulation of the pastiche barrier, which excludes a self-evident subsumability of remixes and sampling.

We see with concern that the time for an expert healing of the failed Copyright Service Provider Law (UrhDaG) is running out and that even proponents of the bill only approve of individual aspects. The implementation of the other necessary aspects of the Copyright Directive should not suffer from this. A subsequent adoption of the UrhDaG and a temporary loophole will affect our work less than a non-practical special zone knitted with a hot needle.

For us and our professional future, the vote on the draft law is the decision in the election year 2021. We therefore call on all members of the Bundestag again not to interfere with our constitutionally protected intellectual property and not to use our copyright against us!

No incapacitation of the artists! No expropriation of the artists! No special German way!

The following artists have signed the enclosed letter “The horror has no end” as first draftsmen:

21 Sunstreet

Abel Lovac

Falling racing pigeons

Achim wet nurse

Achim Petry

Achim Radloff

Achim Rafain

Eight buckets of chicken hearts

Adele Walter

AFFKT

Afterburner

Agitation Free

Airwalk3r

Alan Dixon

Alex garlic

Alex Mayr

Alexander Binder

Alexander Kilian (Café del Mundo)

Alexander Klaws

Alexander King

Alexander Niermann (Botticelli Baby)

Alexander Sandi Kuhn

Alexandra Grübler

Alexis Herrera Estevez

Alf Ator (Knorkator)

Alfons Hefter (feathers)

Alina von der Gathen (KOJ)

All colors

ALLEVIATE

Alvaro Soler

Alvin Mills

Amanda

Amigos

Ana Carina Woitschack

Andhim

Andre Bratten

Andre Graute

Andre Kroenert

André Kunze

Andre Schoettler

Andreas Bayless

Andreas Bourani

Andreas Eckert (Pam Pam Ida & the Silberfischorchester)

Andreas Henneberg

Andreas Radloff

Andreas Rasmussen

Andreas Vitoria-Adzersen

Andreas Völk

Andy Birr (Bell, Book and Candle)

Andy Kouchen

Andy LaToggo

Andy Lutter

Andy Schmidt (Disillusion)

Angel’s Blue

Angela Gossow

Angelika Weiz

Aniko Kanthak

Anja Krabbe

Anja Morell

Anja Schneider

Anna Carewe

Anna-Marlene Bicking

Anne de Wolff

Anne Otto (air)

Annemarie Eilfeld

Anselm Kluge

Ansoumane Kaba

ANTIHELD

Antje Uhle

Antonina Hamann

apparatus

Aquabella

Aram Khlief (dyrtbyte)

Are Foss

Argile

Ariane Stoll (Jani)

Arne Häussermann (An Early Cascade)

Arne Heger & reinforcement

Arne Jansen

Arno Haas

Arnold Fritsch

Arsenii Efremenko

Asja Valcic

Atlantic

Audun Storset

August August

August Hoffmann (Krahnstøver)

August Zirner

Axel Bosse

Axel Fischer

Balbina

Banda Senderos

bar

Barbara Morgenstern

Bård Aasen Lødemel

Basem Darwish (Cairo Steps)

Basti M

Bastian Stein

Bayuk

Beach bag

Beat Agents

Beatrice Egli

Beatsteaks

Behrang Alavi (Samavayo)

Ben Metzner (dArtagnan)

Ben Münchow

Ben sugar

Benedikt Hoenes

Benny Hunter

Bernd Dellbrügge

Bernd Lhotzky

Bernd Römer (carat)

Bernhard Brink

Bernhard Lloyd (Alphaville)

Bertram Engel

Bettina Flörchinger (Östro 430)

Big Balls & The Great White Idiot

Binoculers

Birgit Maren Buschke

Bitume

Bjoern Schirmacher

Bjorn Heuser

Bjorn Störig

Bjørn Torske

BLANK & JONES

Bobbi Fischer (Berta Epple)

boy

Bring ring

Broilers

Bruno Böhmer Camacho

Bukahara

BUZZ DEE (Knorkator)

CJ Johnson

camouflage

Canda

Carom

Carina Hajek (Tinted House)

Carl Carlton

Carl Christian Steenstrup (Of Norway)

Carl-Ludwig Reichert

Carlos Cipa

Carolin No.

Carolina Nathalie Hudek

Carsten Daerr

Cash 22

CassMae

Cecile Verny

Charlotte Grewe

checkpoint Charlie

Children

Chock & Aré

Chono Chibesakunda

Chris Beier

Chris Cool

Chris Gall

Chris Hopkins

Chris Lindner

Chris Möhlenkamp

Chris van Baal

Christian Bruhn

Christian Burkhardt

Christian Engh

Christian Krischowsky

Christian Liebig (carat)

Christian Meyer

Christian Schroeder

Christian Torchiani

Christian Zach

Christin Stark

Christina Rommel

Christmas

Christof Lauer

Christoph Gaertner

Christoph Grab

Christoph Römer (Steven Liquid)

Christoph Stiefel

Cinthie Christl

Cioz

Circus Electric

Cladigal

Cläng

Clara Haberkamp Trio

Clara Rothlander

Claudius Dreilich (carat)

Claus-Robert Kruse

Clemens Benecke (CBGreen)

Cochise

Coppelius

Cornelius Claudio Kreusch

Corvus Corax

Culcha Candela

Cymo

Czech

Damae

Damnation Defaced

Daniel Lopez

Daniel Meteo

Daniel Nitsch

Daniel Schmidt

Daniel Schütter

Daniel Selke (Ceeys)

Daniel Slam

Daniel Stoll (vision string quartet)

Daniel Tejeda

Daniel Tjus Andersen

Daniel True

Daniel Wirtz

Daniela Alfinito

Daniela Liebl (Taming the Shrew)

Danny Zeremba (Daily Thompson)

Dario Klimke

The money is on the windowsill, Marie

the leak

The panic orchestra

Dave Seaman

David Berton

David Brandes

David Garrett

David Helbock

David Mayer

David Qualey

Debby Smith

Deepaim

Deer jade

Your friends

Denis

Denis Fischer

Dennis Hormes

Dennis Kuhl

Dennis Nutr

Dennis Sagittarius

Dennis Ward

The man

Désirée Nick

Detlef Blanke

Deva Premal

The fishing rod

The doctors

The Feuersteins

The happy

The highest railway

The League of Ordinary Gentlemen

The Mimmis

The Mukketier gang

The music students

The princes

The Schatzis

The dead pants

The doors

The customs officers

Diermaier Werner (Zappi)

Dieter “Machine” Birr (Ex-Puhdys)

Dieter Hallervorden

Dieter Ilg

Dieter Kraus

Dieter Weberpals

Dietmar Kawohl

Dietmar Lowka (Quadro Nuevo)

Dietmar Schmidt (Orgasm Death Gimmick)

Dimple Minds

Dirk Dresselhaus

Dirk Duderstadt

Dirk Flatau (Abisko Lights)

Dirk Michaelis

Dirk Sauer (Ed Guy)

Dirk Schelpmeier

Dirk Zöllner

Dissidents

DJ André Siddi

DJ Antoine

Doctor Dru

Dominik Marz

Donots

Dorette Gonschorek (Unplaces)

Doris Orsan

Dorothèe Kreusch-Jacob

Douglas Greed

Dr. Bernd Opinion

Dr. Peter Wegele

Dream Sound Masters

Drenchill

Duivelspack

Ecco Meineke

Echo loop

Edmond Dante’s Weinfeld

Edward Maclean

Edy Edwards

Einar Olsson

Eirik Seu Stokkmo

Eivind Henjum

ela.

Elaiza

Element of Crime

Eleonora Gelmetti

Elfenberg

Eleven morning

Elif

Elio Rodriguez Luis

Ella Finally

Eloy de Jong

Ender Irkdas

NARROW

epitaph

Eric Smax

Erik Skantze

Eva Claus (deEVA.)

Eva Kruse

Even Brenden

Ex machina

Fabian Altstötter (Jungstötter)

Fabian Krooss

Fabian kiss

Fabian Russ

Fabiana Striffler

Fabin Dammers (UDO)

Fabrizio Levita

Fatma Kar

Fairy Badenius

Fee Kürten

Fee Rent (Fee.)

Feline & Strange

Felix Deraed

Felix Gauder

Felix Janosa

Felix Kubin

Felix Lehrmann

Felix Volk

Felix Weis (rolling mill)

FINNA

Fiorella Geide

Flo mega

Florian Grießmann (ANOKI)

Florian Gutmann

Florian artist

Florian Sagner

Florian Willeitner

Folo Dada

Fools Garden

Franca

Frank Fischer

Frank Gala Gahler

Frank Kleingünther (Dieselknecht)

Frank Lehmann

Frank Loef

Frank Nimsgern

Frank Spilker (The Stars)

Frank Wedler

Frank Wiedemann (Âme)

Frank Zander

Frantz Jørgen Andreassen

Franz Rapid

Franziska Seelig

Fred Strand

Fredrik Øgreid Vogsborg

Free swimmers

Frida Gold

Frieder Klaris

Friederike Bernhardt

Deadline Puppel (City)

Frizz Feick

Fox devil game

Fur Coat (Sergio Muñoz)

Fury in the Slaughterhouse

FUTURE PALACE

Gabriel Kent

Gary Jones

Geir Hermansen

Geordie Little

George Geccoo

Georgie Fisher

Gerd Grabowski

Gerd janson

Get Well Soon

GG Anderson

Giorgio Gee

Giovanni Costello

Giovanni Zarrella

Gisbert zu Knyphausen

Giuseppe Pepe Solera

Glass bead game

Gloss

Gorge

Götz Alsmann

GProject Blues Band

Gracia Baur

Grandbrothers

Gregor Meyle

Gregor Tresher

Grizzly (Cris Vogt)

GSINDL

Gudrun Good

Guijaygoo

Günther Gebauer

Guru Atman

Well

Guts Pie Earshot

HP Baxter

Hannes Ringlstetter

Hans Nieswandt (solo & Whirlpool Productions)

Hans-Peter Lindstrøm

Harald Grosskopf

Hardy and Heroes

Harry Alfter (Brings)

Heiko Maile

Heiner Gulich

Heinz Ratz

Heinz-Rudolf Kunze

Helene Fischer

Helga Brenninger

Helge Schneider

Helmut Hattler

Helmut Josef Geier (Dj Hell)

Helmut Zerlett

Helmuth Rüssmann

Hendrik Bertram

Hendrik Röder (Bell, Book and Candle)

Henning Brandt-Hansen Severud (Telephones)

Henning Sedlmeir

Henning Severud

Henning Verlage (Unheilig)

Henri Bergmann

Henrik Mayer (MYR)

Henry Poetzsch

Herbert Grönemeyer

Mr. DK

Herwig Mitteregger

Hetzel Pascal (CYRK)

Hidden Empire

Hitfield

Hope

Horst Hansen Trio

Horst Wegener

Housefly

Howard Carpendale

Hill

Hundreds

Iben magpie

Iko Andrae

Illegal colors

In Extremo

Ines Gorka

Ines Weber

Inga Lühning

Ingo Bergsen

Ingo Politz

Inca Bause

Intourist

Ira Atari

Ireen Sheer

Isgaard

Isolation Berlin

Ivaylo Kolev

Jacek Brzozowski

Jack Rush

Jacki Reznicek (Silly)

Jakob Encke (vision string quartet)

Jakob Seidensticker

Jamaram

Jan Kerscher (Like Lovers)

Jan Pascal (Cafe del Mundo)

Jan Zehrfeld

Jana Groß (Bell, Book and Candle)

Janika Groß (Molllust)

Jan-Ole Lamberti (Nailed To Obscurity)

Janosch Korell

Jan-Philipp Wiesmann

Jaques Raupé

Jarle Bråthen

Jasmin Adgezalov (unloved)

Jasmina de Boer

Jazzy Gudd

Jean Jacobi

Jeanette Biedermann

Jean-Hervé Peron (Faust)

Jean-Jaques Kravetz

Jelena Kuljić

Jens Ewald

Jens child father

Jens Kosmiky (KrAWAllo)

Jens Loh

Jens Ophälders

Jens Thomas

Jens-Uwe Beyer (popnoname)

JEREMIAS

Jermaine Landsberger

Jey aux platines

Jiggler

Jimi Jules

Jirka Otte

Jo Ambros

Joachim Dyrdahl

Joachim Wolf

Jocelyn B. Smith

Jochen Klüßendorf

Jochen Leistner (The Shadow Lizzards)

Jochen Schmadtke (air)

Joe Fischer

Joe war

Johan Daansen

Johanna Borchert

Johanna Summer

Johannes Cernota

Johannes glorious

Johannes Maikranz

Johannes Oerding

Johannes Stankowski

Johannes Till (Tinted House)

Johannes Tonio Kreusch

Jon Berry

Jon Flemming Olsen

Jon Welch

Jonas Frömming (The Lumpenpack)

Jonny Glut

Joo Kraus

Jörg “Knickiknacki” carpenter

Jörg Seidel

Jörg Warthy Wartmann

Jörg Weißelberg

Joris

Joris Biesmans

Jorita Solf

Jörkk Mechenbier

Joshua Oldenburg

Joss Turnbull

Joy Denalane

Joyosa

Judy and The Gardeners

Julia Engelmann

Julia Kautz

Julia Müller

Julia Neigel

Julian Ortleb

Julian Stetter

Julian Wasserfuhr

Junkx

Jupiter Jones

Jürgen Fastje

Kai Brückner

Kai Havaii (extra wide)

Kai Schumacher

Kai Sichtermann (clay stones shards)

Kai Sonnenhalter

Kai Wingenfelder (Wingenfelder)

Kajetan Löffler

KALEA

Kalle Kalima

Kalle Risan Sandås

Kaman Leung

Kamil Müller (Django 3000)

Kåre Frisvold

Karibuni

Karl Bartos

Karl Brausch

Karl Ivar Refseth

Karmin Amun (sons of Mannheim)

Karolina Trybala

Karoshi

Katharine Mehrling

Kathrin Rettl (Mila Masu)

Katja Moslehner

Merchant

Basement child

Kelvin Jones

Ken Taylor

Kenn Hartwig (CAR)

Kerstin Ott

Ketil Kinden Endresen

Kevin Haselmeier

Kevin Krämer (Justis)

Kiki (Joakim Willich)

Kilian & Jo

Kilian Forster (Klazz Brothers)

Kilian Kemmer

Kiosk ID

Kitsch war

Kjetil Bjøreid Aabø

Klaas

Klaus Bechstein

Klaus Doldinger

Klaus Hoffmann

Klaus Meine (Scorpions)

Klaus Paier

Toilet TV

KMFDM

Knasterbeard

Knut Stenert (Samba, Knut and the bitter woman, Hans Maria Richter)

Kolbjørn Lyslo

Konstantin Wecker

Korbinian Kugler

Kramsky

Kristian Møller Johansen

Kristian Rädle (Âme)

L’aupaire

LaneCryspo

Lari Luke

Lars Christian Olsen

Laura Kipp (LAURA)

Laura Kozlowski

Laura Phillips

Lennard Eggers

Leonard Disselhorst (vision string quartet)

Leslie Mandoki

Liliath

Lilly dangling

Locust fudge

LoFiLu

Love A

Lovra

Luca Musto

Lucas Hunter

Luci van Org (Lucilectric, Meystersinger, Über Mutter, Lucina Soteira)

Lucina Soteira

Luis Baltes (Five Star Deluxe)

Lukas master

Lukas prank

Lukas Wiesemüller

Luke Woodapple

Luky Zappatta

Luna City Express

Lyane Hegemann (E-rotic)

M. Walking On The Water

Macho Cutie (Vegard Wolf Dyvik, Of Norway)

Mad Hatter’s Daughter

Mad Mark

Maenad Veyl

Magdalena Ganter

Magnus Sheehan

Maik Czymara (An Early Cascade)

Maik Pinto

Maike Lindemann

Maite Kelly

Majan

Malou

Mandy Capristo

Manfred Maurenbrecher

Manfred Zick (Zither Manä)

Manne Schlaier

Manuel Schmid

Mara Mutz

Marc Awounou

Marc Reason

Marcapasos

Marcel Thenee

Marco Buser

Marco Duderstadt

Marco Repetto (gray area)

Marco Resmann

Marcus Fischer

Marcus Forsgren

Marcus Green

Marcus Worgull

Marek Arnold

Margit Sarholz

Maria Perzil

Marian Gold (Alphaville)

Marianne Rosenberg

Mario Alsleben (Pimalo)

Mario Aparicio

Mario Noll

Mario Valley

Marion Welch

Marius Engemoen

Marius Sommerfeldt

Marius Våreid

Mark Barrott

Mark Meier

Markus Becker

Markus Hassold

Markus Rennhack (unloved)

Marteria

Martin Becker (carat)

Martin Brugger (Fazer)

Martin de Vries

Martin Gretschmann (Acid Pauli / Console)

Martin Hansmann

Martin Kälberer

Martin Langer

Martin Schrack

Martin Schröder

Martin Solli

Martina Eisenreich

Martina Weith (Östro 430)

Marv Endt

Marvin Müller

Masha Qrella

Mass defect

Mathias Petry

Mathias Roska

Mathias Schober

Matias Monsen

Mats Frantzvaag

Matt Karmil

Matthew Styles-Harris

Matthias Hamburger

Matthias Reim

Máni Orrason

Maurice sums

Mausio

Max Alberti (Jamaram)

Max Buskohl

Max Herre

Max Kaspar

Max Kleinschmidt (Lizot)

Max Lean

Max Martin Schröder

Max Mutzke

Max Paul Maria

Max prose

Max von Mosch

Maximilian Kennel (The Lumpenpack)

Maximilian Raine (VUG)

Maximilian Stadtfeld

Megaloh

Meike Schmitz (Schwarz and Schmitz, LUUM)

Meinhard

Meinhard Jenne

Mercedes Lalakakis (Daily Thompson)

Micha Moor

Michael Cores

Michael Girke (NOW!)

Michael Koschorreck

Michael Lorenz

Michael Mangels (Mijk van Dijk)

Michael Mayer

Michael Melchner

Michael Nass (BAP, Die Seilschaft)

Michael Schab (An Early Cascade)

Michael Uchner

Michelle Sara Lahn

Michi Leuscher

Michl Bloching (Levantino)

Mikimoto

Mikkel Haraldstad

Miland “Mille” Petrozza (Kreator)

mine

Mira

Miriam Arens (Liliath)

Missus Beastly

Miten

Fashion selector

Mona Mur

Monika Ehrhardt Lakomy

Monika Kruse

Monrath

Moonwalk

Moritz Müller

Moritz Reichelt (The Plan)

Morten Øby

Mr. Hurley & The Powder Monkeys

Mulay

Mulo Francel (Quadro Nuevo)

Mushroom People

Nadine thimble

Nadine Maria Schmidt

Naomi Camilla Straume Moen

Natalie Poppinger

Nathalie De Bora

Nathalie Dorra

nautilus

Neon light

Nice Brazil

Nick Curly

Nico Santos

Nico Stojan

Nicole Bolley

Niels Frevert

Nik Thaele

Nikel Pallat (clay stone shards)

Nikita Scion

Niklas Linzer

Niko Schwind

Nils Imhorst (Firasso)

Nils Landgren

Nils von der Gathen (KOJ)

Nils Wogram

Nils Wülker

Norbert Emminger

Norbert Grille Roth

Norbert Staudte (Taming the Shrew)

Olaf Malolepski

Ole Andreas Olafsrud

Ole Feddersen

Ole Martin Vilberg

Ole Rausch (Laith al Deen)

Ole Seelenmeyer

Oli Bott

Oliver Braun

Oliver Dunk

Oliver Hartmann

Oliver Huntemann

Oliver Koletzki

Oliver Lieb

Oliver Rohrbeck

Oliver Black

Oliver Thomas

Oliver West (POINT BLVNK)

Olivia Baer

Olympya

Omer Klein

Ostückenberg

OUR MIRAGE

Out of Berlin

OVE

Øyvind Morken

Pascal Kravetz

Paso Doble

Pat Appleton (De-Phazz)

Patric Catani

Patrick Foellmer (lilabungalow)

Patrick Hespeler

Patrick Kunkel

Patrick Legont

Patrick Milaa

Paul Pötsch (rubble)

Patrick Reerink

Patrick Siegfried Zimmer

Paul Schmitz-Moormann (Kid Paul, Energy 52)

Paul van Dyk

Paul Wetz

Paula Linke

Per Martinsen

Pete Mazell

Peter “Spiko” Spiecker

Peter Brandenburg

Peter Brings

Peter Bursch

Peter Fleming

Peter Hubert (VHF)

Peter light

Peter Maffay

Peter Renaud (Tiktaalik)

Peter Ries

Peter Schmidt (The Blues Experience)

Peter Schneekloth

Peter Schumann

Petra Zieger and band

Philip Lauer (Lauer)

Philipp Fein

Philipp Höcketstaller (Hundling)

Philipp Janzen (Vacation in Poland, Von Spar)

Philipp Schwab (Knorkator)

Philip Stoeckenius (Kaltenkirchen)

Philipp Stauber

Phillip Boa

Pit Baumgartner (De-Phazz)

Pit Budde

Plastic funk

pølaroit

Potsch Potschka

Prince Chaos II. (Alias ​​Florian Kirner)

Prof. Esther Kaiser

Proj3ct 7

PURE

Purple Schulz

Quarterhead

Queenz of Piano

Rainer Max Lingk (ESTA * bien!)

Rainer Oleak

Rainer Scheithauer

Rainer Schober (Scotty Bullock)

Ralf Blümner (Goldkind, Lucilectric)

Ralf Hildenbag

Ralf Hütter (power plant)

Ralf Lübke (Monkeeman)

Ralf Zenker

Ralph Gustke

Ralph Siegel

Rammstein

Ramon Bessel

Ramon Zenker

Rana Merve Kilic

Rampage

Rantan plan

Raoul Walton

Rave Busterz

Re.You (Marius Maier)

Real Ax Band

Rebekka Salomea Ziegler (SALOMEA)

Reiko Gohlke (Knorkator)

Reinhold Heil

René Kollo

Richie Arndt

Richie Necker

Ritchie Barton (Silly)

Ritchy Fondermann

Robbie shoulder

Robby Kranz (Disillusion, Far Or Near)

Robert Gemmel (Elephants on Tape)

Robert Lippok

Robert Seidel (Arpen)

Robin Craaford

Robin Schulz

Rocco

Rock house

Rocko Schamoni

Roedelius

Roland Fidezius

Roland Kaiser

Roland nephew

Roman Wasserfuhr

Ron Last

Ronny

Rosa Hoelger

Snot-nose theater

Roy Stroebel (Strobe, Ravers Nature, RAT)

Rüdiger Badlauf

Rudolf Moser (Einstürzende Neubauten)

Rudolf Schenker (Scorpions)

Rumble Militia

Rummel racke

Lindbæk rune

Sabine Kaufmann

Sahraoui Sami (CYRK)

Sain (Ningu Storm)

Sam Shure

Sam Vance-Law

Sammy Kandler (Tillmann)

Samuel Dickmeis (Manni)

Sander Stuart (vision string quartet)

Sandra Grether (Doctorella)

Santiano

Saprize

Sarah Lesch

Sarah Stewart

Sarah Wild

Sascha Panknin

Schiller

Tow spirit

Schneider TM

Scrap border

Scooter

Seb Iphone

Sebastian Dold (KrAWAllo)

Sebastian Gramss

Sebastian Hackel

Sebastian Schütze (TinTin, Baru)

Sebastian Siebhoff

Sebastian Starke

Seed cake

At that time

Selda Zenker

Sepalot

Sera finale

Shelter boy

She-Male Trouble

SHIRLEY HOLMES

Shuko

Sibylle Kynast

Sidewalk surfers

Silvio Schneider

Simon Beeston

Simon Freidhöfer

Simon Sure

Simon von der Gathen (KOJ)

Simon Wangeman (Iheartsharks, The New)

are

SINE

Sirrah

Sisters on the Rocks

Siyou Isabelle Ngnoubamdjum

Skadi Lange (Miss Lange)

Skip Reinhardts

Sleeping drones

SLIME

Sneaker

Snuff crew

Sonja Banzhaf

Sonja Huber (Lottchen)

Sönke Düwer (Ensemble du Verre)

Sophie Black

Sören Fischer

Sotiria

Space Indians

Sparifankal

SPLIFF

Stefan Brügesch (Steve Bug)

Stefan Dabruck

Stefan Glaubitz

Stefan Grimm

Stefan Gwildis

Stefan Kleinkrieg (extra wide)

Stefan Krähe

Stefan Mross

Stefan Schmidt

Stefan Stoppok

Stefanie Polster

Steffen Berkhahn (Dixon)

Steffen Kämbt

Steffi Stephan

Sten Servaes (clover)

Stephan Eppinger

Stephan Gorol

Stephan Graf’s double vision

Stephan Philipp

Stephan Voland (Samavayo)

Stephanie Lottermoser

Steve Murano

Steve Parry

Steve van Velvet

Stump (knorkator)

Super chock distortion

Susanne Betancor

Susanne Folk

Suzi Kerstgens (Klee)

Sven Faller

Sven Greiner

Sven Pollkötter

Sven Roswog (svensyntetics)

SvenDeeKay

Sven-RG

T.Noize

Tamara Lukasheva

Tanja Grandmontagne

Taraka Rama Krishna Kanth Kannuri

Tarjei Nygård

Telmo Pires

Teresa Bergman

Terje Olsen (Todd Terje)

Terror group

The Dad Horse Experience

The Day

The Dry Tortugas

The esprits

The Munich Sheiks

THE OKLAHOMA KID

The pighounds

The Romeos

The Roughnecks

The Wayf

Theodor Shitstorm

Theodor Strom

Thomas Barth (Sunbase Records TBC)

Thomas Fehlmann

Thomas Gallatin

Thomas Klein (Sølyst)

Thomas Moen Hermansen (Prins Thomas)

Thomas Plug

Thomas Porwol (Arte Gemini)

Thomas Sauerborn

Thomas Schumacher

Thomas Thumann (Pam Pam Ida & the Silberfischorchester)

Thomas Wydler (Nick Cave, The Skin)

Thomasz Skulski

Thorsten Klentze

Thorsten Wingenfelder (Wingenfelder)

Tibetréa

Till Brönner

Tilo Weber & Four Fauns

Tim bendzko

Tim Hahn

Tim Kamrad

Tim Rodig

Timofey Sattarov

Tingvall Trio

To Rococo red

Tobi Neumann

Tobias Forster

Tobias Öller

Tobias Sammet (Avantasia)

Tobias Schwall

Toby Pluta

TOKA

Tokio Hotel

Tom Astor

Tom Dragebo

Tom Gatza

Tom Kiemle (Tillmann)

Tom Peters

Tomas tulip

Tommy Finke

Tommy Hresh

Tommy Remm (Valicon)

Toni Krahl (City)

Torben Möller-Meissner

Torsten de Winkel

Torsten Reitler (REITLER)

Township rebellion

Trettmann

Triinu Kivilaan (Vanilla Ninja)

Triskilian

Truck stop

Truls Kvam

Udo Erdenreich (ZIGURI)

Udo Lindenberg

Ulf Annel

Ulf Kleiner

Uli Poeppelbaum

Ulla Meinecke

Ulrike Hagemann

Uncanny Valley

Upercent (Jose Molés Martínez)

Ute Freudenberger

Uwe Bastiansen

Uwe Fischer

Uwe Hassbecker (Silly)

Uwe Schmidt (ATM)

Valentine

Valentin Butt

Van der Karsten

vandermeer

Vecente Patiz

VENUES

Vera climate

Veronika Faber

Veronika Gast (spring carnations)

Verse gold

Vincent Groß

VITJA

Vladyslav Sendecki

Volker Holly Schlott

Volker Rechin

Volker Rosin

Volkwin Müller

voXXclub

VUG

Madness

brown owl

Wallis Bird

Walter Lang

Wareika

Werner Meier

Werner Schmidbauer

West Lake

Willy Wagner

Wincent Weiss

Wolf Maahn

Wolfgang Loos

Wolfgang Niedecken (BAP)

Wolfgang Petry

Wolfgang Schmid

Wolfram Spyra (The Spyra)

What We Are Looking For

Wooden Peak

Wrong chat

Wrong haircut

Wuide Wachl

Xao Seffcheque (Family Five)

Yetti Meissner

Yoyo Röhm

Zavet

ZK

Zoe Wees

Zwakkelmann

@unite4copyright: Celebrate World IP Day/Week 2021

On April 26, 2021, the Copyright Alliance will once again celebrate World IP Day (WIPD). WIPD is recognized on the same day in April of each year to remind everyone of the critical role that intellectual property plays in encouraging creativity and innovation. And from April 26-30, the Copyright Alliance will celebrate WIPD by joining our members, partners, and countless creators and organizations around the world to mark the occasion by amplifying blogs and videos, hosting virtual events, and much more—all designed to celebrate the fact that IP helps the global arts scene to flourish and enables the innovation that drives human progress.

Read the post on Copyright Alliance

Curiouser and Curiouser: Strange Loose Ends with Apple Music and The MLC

[Guest post by Chris Castle. This post first appeared on MusicTechPolicy. This is interesting because songwriters don’t often see shenanigans from Apple Music but it is probably due to the overpowering litigation magnet of the MMA. Put this in The MLC redesignation file]

Here’s an update on the bizarre saga of Apple Music and The MLC. Remember that HFA sent to its publishers this termination notice from Apple Music on Apple’s lyric and cloud services licenses (and assume for the moment it was also sent to other non-HFA publishers):

Apple Termination

This is remarkable because the Music Modernization Act limits the kind of licenses that the MLC can administer because the blanket license only applies to a limited number of activities (on demand streaming, limited downloads and permanent downloads). It does not apply to lyric licenses or cloud services because the blanket license is not available for those rights. Those rights would still need to be licensed under the very type of agreements that Apple is terminating.

This question came up during a recent MLC webinar moderated by MLC executives Kris Ahrend (CEO) and Serona Elton (Head of Educational Partnerships). These two executives were asked the obvious question, how can The MLC do lyric licensing for Apple. An eagle eyed MTP reader sent this screen capture from the chat:

MLC Apple Answer

So you have to ask, if The MLC can’t license lyrics, why did Apple terminate their lyric licenses and transfer to The MLC?  And what does “separately from us” mean?  The answer is not really responsive to the question.

Separately from us could easily mean that while The MLC is not licensing lyrics, some other entity is. (Presumably the lyrics are from songs that are subject to the blanket license so the MLC would play a role.)   Remember that the termination notice came from HFA.  Could it be that “separately from us” means HFA would be issuing a side by side lyric license on behalf of its publishers?

And remember that the notice from Apple includes this language:

[W]e intend to move our licensing and royalty administration for Apple Music to the MLC starting from January 1, 2021.

Congress did not intend that The MLC offer licensing and royalty administration for DMPs like Apple.  That would mean that The MLC would be paying itself for Apple’s blanket activities.  That is what HFA does through a rather porous ethical wall (and for which they have been at the center of two class actions and numerous copyright infringement lawsuits and are currently a co-defendant with Spotify in another post-MMA lawsuit).

It has long been assumed that somehow some way The MLC intends to offer bundled licensing which is currently prohibited.  Bundled licensing could take the form of performances, ex-US rights, sync, even general licensing.

It seems like that effort is quietly underway.  What is an alternative explanation for Apple terminating a large number of agreements and transferring its licensing and royalty administration functions to The MLC?  Is the plan that The MLC gets the business and HFA does the work that The MLC is prohibited by statute from performing (at least until they move the goalposts again)?

This does help to explain why there is no MLC database and all The MLC’s “data quality initiative” corrections and improvements are being performed on the HFA database (which HFA owns and will use for work not limited to the blanket license).

Curiouser and curiouser.

Black Box Hunting: The Songwriters Guild/Society of Composers & Lyricists/Music Creators North America’s Ex Parte Letter Stands Up for Transparency

[Editor T says: Remember when songwriters were promised that the Music Modernization Act was going to solve all your problems—AND give you a set of steak knives? Remember? Never needs ironing? And doubles on sax? One big feature was digital music services paying up to the Mechanical Licensing Collective for matching the entire black box from “inception” meaning all the money a service ever held that their data vendors couldn’t match and weren’t paid to try very hard, especially Spotify aka “defendant”. Who was that data vendor who couldn’t match? HFA. And who is the MLC’s data vendor? HFA. So the last couple weeks the insiders have been back-tracking behind closed doors at the Copyright Office on how–or if–that black box will be paid to songwriters. The only way you’d ever know this was happening is if you were paying very close attention to the Copyright Office “ex parte” letters. (sign up for email alerts there.) The Songwriters Guild/SCL/MCNA group is the songwriter’s junkyard dog with their teeth sunk in the tuchus of the insiders. We’ll be posting a selection of these recent “ex parte” letters which publicly document private conferences held by the Copyright Office with “stakeholders”. “Everyone’s a winner, bargains galore….the large print giveth and the small print taketh away” as Tom Waits said.]

EX PARTE MEETING SUMMARY WITH

THE UNITED STATES COPYIGHT OFFICE

Docket Number 2020-12

November 18, 2020

Re: Summary of the November 13, 2020 Ex-Parte Meeting Between the United States Copyright Office on behalf of the following independent, US-based music creator organizations: the Songwriters Guild of America, Inc. (SGA), the Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL), and Music Creators North America, Inc. (MCNA)

On Friday, November 13, 2020, an ex-parte video-conference meeting was conducted by the United States Copyright Office (USCO) with multiple interested parties concerning rulemakings in connection with Doc. No. 2020-12. This summary is submitted on behalf of SGA, SCL and MCNA (together, the “Independent Music Creator Organizations” or “IMCOs”), all of which were represented at the meeting. Attending for SGA were President Rick Carnes, outside counsel Charles Sanders, and outside legislative consultant Marla Grossman of the American Continental Group (ACG). Attending for SCL was President Ashley Irwin. Attending for MCNA was President Eddie Schwartz. The meeting was chaired on behalf of the USCO delegation by its General Counsel, Regan Smith.

Individuals representing the IMCOs began by respectfully stressing, as they had in their ex parte tele-conference with the USCO on September 11, 2020, the bedrock principle that independent music creators speak for themselves on all issues related to their rights and interests, and that no other music community groups have the right or authority to claim otherwise. Specifically, the IMCOs rejected the assertion by some music publisher representatives (backed by at least one of their affiliated songwriter groups) that the USCO’s oversight and rulemaking authority concerning matters related to 2020-12 should be viewed as being narrowly limited.

The IMCOs have stressed on multiple occasions through their USCO Comments a strong belief that Congress, by its very construction of the Music Modernization Act (MMA), intends the Office to have broad and expansive authority to oversee and guide the implementation of the MMA by the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC). That is especially so in regard to ensuring transparency, reliability and fairness regarding the safeguarding of music creator rights, the class of persons for whom the MMA was most clearly enacted to protect pursuant to Article I Section 8 of the US Constitution.

The main issue of concern addressed at the November 13, 2020 meeting was the oversight and disposition of accrued, unmatched royalties collected and held by Digital Music Providers and subsequently distributed pursuant to private negotiated agreements with music publishers. It is believed by the IMCOs that as regards those agreements and royalties, some or all of the parties thereto were very likely aware at the time of negotiation and execution, that (i) such confidential agreements and payments concerned royalties accrued from the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of musical works owned by unrelated third parties; (ii) little to no effort had been made to properly identify rightful ownership, and (iii) such accruals might soon be subject to payment rules under the MMA that would require strictly delineated sharing of such “permanently” unmatched royalties with music creators by music publishers (including a minimum floor of 50%) after the conducting by the MLC of bona fide searches for rightful owners.

Further assertions were made by the IMCOs at the meeting that after three years of discussions, still no informed estimate had yet been made by Digital Music Providers of the aggregate amounts of unmatched royalties both still being held and already distributed. Thereafter, one knowledgeable representative of Digital Music Providers estimated that while there remain hundreds of millions of dollars in accrued, unmatched royalties in the possession of the Digital Music Providers, tens of millions of dollars in accrued unmatched royalties were indeed turned over directly to music publishers pursuant to the terms of the confidential, private negotiated agreements.

As was also made clear during the meeting, the IMCOs have no direct information as to the content of such private negotiated agreements, and no direct information as to what became of the unmatched royalties such music publishers received.

Several music publishers have claimed in ex parte letters to the USCO that they indeed shared such unmatched royalties with their affiliated music creators, but no specific information has been provided as to the methodology and details of such sharing, including whether the principles and and guarantees eventually set forth in the MMA as enacted were applied.1 Moreover as the IMCOs reported at the meeting, an informal and ongoing process of canvassing creators currently being conducted by each MCNA member organization have yet to confirm a single instance in which a songwriter or composer received a royalty statement indicating that portions of such accrued, unmatched royalties were included (though they may have been) and on what basis.

As the IMCOs asserted at the meeting, were such unmatched royalties paid to songwriters and composers by music publishers on terms resembling the MMA rules concerning music creator protections (as either drafted or eventually enacted), it seems counter-intuitive that that no line item would appear anywhere in accounting statements indicating the source of such payments, not only as a matter of sound accounting practice, but of earned good will. No other music creator groups present at the meeting challenged or contradicted these ongoing findings or assertions. In any event, as noted, it seems that the burden of demonstrating the details of such payments is more properly placed on the music publishers who claim to have made them, which could be as simple as each publisher disclosing a properly predicated and binding assertion that the payments were made, how many were made, what was the aggregate payment, and how was each songwriter’s share determined.2

Under such circumstances as they currently exist, as SGA President Rick Carnes pointed out at the meeting, asking interested parties to render opinions on the minutiae of proposed rules concerning the disposition of accrued unmatched royalties –with only some parties having an understanding of how the private agreements operated, who got paid, who didn’t, and why– is a difficult position in which to place the IMCOs and other parties with important, related interests.

As Mr. Carnes pointed out, the issues of (i) how to protect the rights of those music creators and copyright owners who did not participate in the privately negotiated agreements by ensuring that there is an opportunity to actually match those already-distributed royalties to their proper owners and to effect the prompt payment of such sums, (ii) how to balance accounts once such proper identifications have been made, while also ensuring that affiliated music creators have been properly paid by their music publishers concerning royalties collected under the private negotiated agreements that otherwise would have flowed through the MLC and been explicitly subject to MMA distribution requirements, (iii) how to address demands of Digital Music Providers that they not be made to pay twice for the same unmatched uses, and (iv) how to ensure that such private negotiated agreements are not utilized in the future in attempts to override the provisions of the MMA, all need to be addressed prior to a proper analysis of how most effectively to move forward.3

Thus, as was stated at the meeting, while the IMCOs agree the MMA makes clear that ALL accrued unmatched royalties for unauthorized reproductions and distributions dating back to inception must be turned over to the MLC by Digital Music Providers, and that the term “generally accepted accounting principles” used in the Act in no way provides an exception to that unambiguous provision, the crucial questions enumerated above also need to be immediately addressed as matters of fairness and transparency mandated by the Act.

As to the very important issue of retroactive effect of the MMA provisions concerning guaranteed music creator participation in the distribution of permanently unmatched royalties at or above the fifty percent level, the IMCOs adamantly believe, as stated at the meeting, that it is wholly illogical for any interested party to argue that Congress intended as it did to require that all accrued, unmatched royalties be rendered to the MLC by Digital Music Providers back to each service’s date of inception, but that the songwriter, composer, transparency and good faith protections guaranteed by the Act would not otherwise be applicable in the event of premature disgorgement of unmatched royalties by Digital Music Providers to music publishers pursuant to prior agreements. This is an issue that certainly requires further attention, and calls for more comprehensive discussion than for which there was time at the meeting.

As was noted several times by various speakers, the Chair of the Senate Judiciary has warned that absent a fair and transparent resolution of these complex issues, the MMA may become a magnet for litigation, the very opposite effect that it was intended to achieve. The IMCOs wholeheartedly agree, and stand ready to assist the USCO in taking all reasonable measures to achieve the transparency, fairness and robust oversight that the legislation demands in order to avoid that undesirable result.

To reiterate in closing, as the IMCOs tried to make clear at the meeting, voluntary disclosure of the specific details of the privately negotiated agreements, redacted to protect legitimate privacy and antitrust concerns, is an important prerequisite to achieving those goals. The IMCOs further repeat their stated beliefs that the USCO has the singular ability if not to compel, at least to facilitate such disclosures in a timely manner, and respectfully urge it to do so.

Further comments of SGA, SCL and MCNA will be forthcoming in regard to the proposed rulemaking by next week’s deadline. As stated at the conclusion of the meeting, however, the IMCOs believe that all parties would benefit by a brief extension for the submissions of such comments until the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday in order to allow for further discussions among the parties. The IMCOs acknowledge a certain lack of unified support for this suggestion at the meeting, and active opposition by at least one music publisher representative, but continue to believe it to be an advisable accommodation. Those parties wishing to abide by the original deadline would always be free to do so, as was explicitly pointed out.

The IMCOs thank the USCO for scheduling the ex parte discussion, and look forward to continuing this constructive dialog.

Respectfully submitted,

Charles J. Sanders
Outside Counsel
Songwriters Guild of America, Inc.

cc: Regan Smith, General Counsel, The United States Copyright Office
Rick Carnes, SGA President
Ashley Irwin, SCL President
Eddie Schwartz, MCNA President

  1. At least one publisher has indicated an alleged willingness to share details of such payments with any writer who makes inquiry as to his or her own works, an unlikely scenario considering that a huge percentage of writers have no knowledge of the private negotiated agreements in the first place, and –to the knowledge of the IMCOs based on informal canvassing– have not been directly informed about them by their publishers. See, e.g., Ex Parte letter from Sony/ATV dated October 28, 2020: “It has been SATV’s practice to explain to our writers who inquire how these royalties are distributed and reflected on their statements.”

2. Likewise, it seems that the burden of demonstrating how much each Digital Music Provider paid to music publishers is more properly placed on the services who claim to have made the payments, which in turn could be as simple as disclosing a properly predicated and binding assertion that the payments were made, how many were made, what was the aggregate payment, and how was each publisher’s share determined. It is anticipated that such details may be forthcoming from Digital Music Providers in their reporting under the MMA, but that remains uncertain.

3 That is especially so in light of the apparent assertions of one or more Digital Music Providers that they may forego the limited safe harbor provisions provided by the MMA by not turning over to the MLC the full amount of accrued, unmatched royalties dating back to inception of use, probably under the assumption that the potential running of applicable statutes of limitations will provide the same protections as the safe harbor without payment of the royalties due. The IMCO raised this statute of limitations issue at the meeting, and was gratified that at least one Digital Music Provider representative felt that this was an issue worthy of further discussion, hopefully with the important input of the USCO. See also, related comment of DLC that “…a DMP could make the rational choice to forego the payment of accrued royalties entirely, and save that money to use in defending itself against any infringement suits.” Comments Of Digital Licensee Coordinator, Inc. In Response To Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking , Docket 2020-12, Document COLC 2020-0011-0008 (Aug. 17, 2020) at 4.

Chris Castle’s Copyright Office Comments on the Black Box Controversy

Here’s some more MLC news you’ll never read about in the trade press.

Yesterday we posted a shocking revelation from the MediaNet/SOCAN ex parte letter to the Copyright Office: It appears that the digital music services have no intention of complying with the much ballyhooed benefit to the Music Modernization Act–in return for the “reach back” safe harbor that somebody decided to grant the services retroactively, the services would pay over (or you could say “disgorge”) all the unmatched and unpaid mechanical royalties that they were holding, sometimes for years, and always secretly. (Adding insult to injury, MediaNet seems to think that referring to SOCAN’s ownership of MediaNet somehow makes screwing us over into a songwriter-friendly act of good fellowship and felicity. More likely, SOCAN itself knows nothing about it.)

Remember, MediaNet straight up threatened to decline the reach back safe harbor and not pay over the black box. As it turns out, MediaNet’s position is not unique–as Chris Castle identified in his reply comment on the Copyright Office’s black box study, all of the services represented by the DLC made that exact threat to the Copyright Office. As Chris observes, these are not idle threats. They are made by the biggest corporations in commercial history, one of which may be broken up due to antitrust investigations on two continents.

Something must be done and done quickly before the DLC decides to take the blanket license without the limitation on liability for past infringements having successfully scared off anyone who could have sued but didn’t thinking that there was a fixed reach back safe harbor. That seems like it will result in the big guys having paid off the big guys in the NMPA’s secret settlement that was being negotiated simultaneously with the MMA (the NMPA’s umbrella December 17, 2017 Pending and Unmatched Usage Agreement referenced in the MediaNet ex parte letter and talked around in other filings. Remember–the MMA was introduced a few days after the secret NMPA agreement on December 21, 2017 and Wixen Music Publishing felt they had to sue Spotify by December 31, 2017 because of the reach back safe harbor. So everyone except the songwriters–and perhaps most Members of Congress–seems to have known that the fix was in on black box.)

Another fine mess they got us into. Here’s the except from Chris Castle’s reply comment:

The DLC’s Quid Pro Quo Revelation

The concept of a “black box” distribution is a pale mimic of a simple
fact: It is not their money. The fundamental step that Title I excuses
is basic and would solve much of the unmatched problem if Title I did
not exist: Don’t use a work unless you have the rights.

It is a fundamental aspect of copyright licensing and it is not metaphysical.
Yet the message from all negotiators concerned in this process seems
to shelter legitimacy in a complication of dangers to the black box that
come down to another simple fact: Obey and be quick about it or the
law will take your money and give it to someone else.

How much is in the black box? They won’t tell you. From where? Not
your business. From when? Confidential. Is it yours? Already paid it
to someone else before you even knew it was there. And Lord knows
that money once taken incorrectly in the dark is unlikely to be paid
correctly in the light.

Comments by the DLC demonstrate conclusively that addressing the
black box has taken on even greater urgency. The DLC’s Initial
Comment in a related docket is unusually revelatory for a group with a
multitrillion dollar market capitalization that loves them some
protective orders. This passage is particularly breathtaking:

This was the heart of the deal struck by the stakeholders in
crafting the MMA: to provide legal certainty for DMPs, through
a limitation on liability, in exchange for the transfer of accrued
royalties.

If that were “the deal” it is news to me, and I like to think that I’ve
been reading along at home pretty attentively. If I wasn’t aware of
“the deal”, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in my ignorance, but I’m far more
understanding of why the negotiators would have been motivated to
keep “the deal” under wraps if that’s really what it was.

If “the deal” wasn’t kept quiet, someone might have asked why there
was a “deal” when the services were simply agreeing to pay money
they already owed and that they were already obligated to pay for infringements that already occurred. Yet, services still got the new
safe harbor trophy to put on the wall in the copyright hunting lodge
next to the DMCA and Section 230.

The gall doesn’t end there, however. The DLC goes on to make this
threat of imminent harm:

[The “deal”] is a crucial point for the Office to keep in mind as it
crafts rules in this space. If the regulations make it less likely
that a DMP will be able to rely on that liability protection when
it needs it—i.e., if it increases the risk that a court would deem a
DMP to not have complied with the requirements in section
115(d)(10)—a DMP could make the rational choice to forego the
payment of accrued royalties entirely, and save that money to
use in defending itself against any infringement suits.

It is a bit odd that the DLC seems to think of Title I as their private
contract, but there it is. The DLC members’ anticipatory repudiation
of the purported deal that the world now knows underpins Title I was
both refreshingly brazen and starkly shocking. Given that the Eight
Mile Style
case against DLC member Spotify (and both Spotify and
The MLC’s vendor the Harry Fox Agency) is a live action, the DLC is
not making an idle threat. The DLC tells us that if its market cap isn’t quite high enough to suit, Spotify could immediately dip into the black
box for “money to use in defending itself.”

The relationship with the services apparently has settled into the
customary laying about with threats and blackguarding both
songwriters and the Copyright Office. That’s reassuring in confirming
that human nature hasn’t actually changed and these companies really
were the Data Lords we had always known our betters to be after all,
sure as boots.17 Maybe one day the scorpion really won’t sting the frog.
Maybe another “unity dinner” is in order. But not today.

Regardless, it is clear that the Copyright Office is almost the only place
that songwriters can go for relief and an explanation of how the MMA
is to be implemented whatever secret deal the DLC now purports to
have made. Given the DLC’s unequivocal threat on behalf of its
members, there is no doubt of the imminent danger that the black
box currently being held is about to vanish into thin air if something
isn’t done immediately to preserve the status quo. The balance of
hardships pretty clearly tilts in favor of the songwriters as the safe
harbor services control the money and always have.

@CISACnews and BIEM’s Copyright Office Comments on the MLC

[Songwriters outside the United States should pay close attention to the disconnect between their CMOs and the MLC. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that The MLC is very US-centric and at that very Anglo-American centric in its myopia. We haven’t done a point by point comparison, but we have posted CISAC and BIEM’s comments in the past and we can’t help noticing that their current comment has a few references to prior comments that seem to have been largely ignored. They are very polite about it (maybe too polite about it) but the consequences of ignoring the CMOs is that any ex-US songwriter whose songs are exploited in the US and who relies on their CMO to collect their US earnings may find their streaming mechanicals reduced to zero after 1/1/21 if the HFA database that The MLC is using is not properly mapped.

The MLC’s continued disregard for CMOs is puzzling unless you think perhaps that The MLC doesn’t think CMOs will continue to play a role in the international copyright system. Whatever The MLC’s long-term goals, it is clear that the Music Modernization Act was drafted from an entirely US-centric point of view and that the concerns of our international partners were never taken into account while at the same time forcing them to accept the MMA’s terms. Another example of the haphazard approach that is rapidly becoming the hallmark of the MMA.]

Read the entire comment here.

The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (“CISAC”) and the International Organisation representing Mechanical Rights Societies (“BIEM”) would like to thank the U.S. Copyright Office (“the Office”) for the opportunity to provide comments on the Proposed Rulemaking on the Public Musical Works Database (“Database”) and Transparency of the Mechanical Licensing Collective (“MLC”). This submission follows our previous comments to the Office, in particular on the Notifications of Inquiry from September 2019 and April 2020 (SG19-1116; SG19-1284; SG20-0614).

As already explained in previous submissions, CISAC and BIEM are international organisations representing Collective Management Organisations (“CMOs”) worldwide that are entrusted with the management of creators’ rights and, as such, have a direct interest in the Regulations governing the functioning of the Database and the transparency of MLC’s operations. CISAC and BIEM would like to thank the Office for highlighting the existence and particularity of entities such as CMOs that are not referred to in the MMA (page 58175 of the Proposed Rulemaking1) and should be treated equally.

CISAC and BIEM are grateful that some of their comments were taken into account by the Office in the Proposed Rulemaking, but would like to reiterate their concerns on certain provisions which, if not adequately addressed, may affect the administration of rights of foreign rightsholders in the US, as follows…

A/ Copyright ownership information and shares

As part of the list of mandatory information for matched works, the Office lists “the copyright owner of the musical work (or share thereof), and the ownership percentage of that owner” (for unmatched works, it is the same as long as the owner has been identified but not located).

For the sake of clarity, we reiterate the need to have CMOs clearly recognized as “copyright owners” under the provisions of the Proposed Rulemaking. Indeed, as already explained in several of our previous submissions, outside the U.S., the “copyright ownership” of the work is attributed to the CMOs managing the mechanical rights of the so-called BIEM repertoire. This would mean that the “copyright owner” share as defined in the Proposed Rulemaking should refer specifically to the share controlled by the CMO as administrator of the work, as opposed to the actual composer/songwriter share.

This clarification also has direct consequences with respect to the determination of sensitive and confidential information which cannot be made publicly accessible through the Database, as further argued in CISAC and BIEM’s comments to the Proposed Rulemaking on Treatment of Confidential Information (see SG20-0562).

If, however, it is considered indispensable for the DMPs and the MLC to have creators’ information and percentage shares for identification and distribution purposes, such data should not be disclosed to third-party entities or made publicly accessible in the Database for the reasons stated in our previous submission. In particular, in the 28 May 2020 comments to the Proposed Rulemaking on Treatment of Confidential Information submitted to the Office,2 CISAC and BIEM explained that there seemed to be no business need to include the creator percentage shares in the musical works, as this information was not required to license or distribute musical works, and constitutes particularly sensitive and confidential financial and business information for creators and their representatives.

Personal identifiable information

CISAC and BIEM fully agrees with the Office with regards to the withdrawal of the date of birth from the list of mandatory public information to be included in the Database. However, CISAC and BIEM continue to be very much concerned with the general compliance of MLC’s operations, including the Database, with data protection laws. As for now, the Proposed Rulemakings are silent on this, although this is a key issue for CMOs worldwide and probably also for other rightsholders.

CISAC and BIEM thus respectfully suggest that the Regulations include clear language on the MLC’s full compliance with data protection laws, and in particular with the European General Data Protection Regulation, as the MLC will process personal data of EU creators. This means that the Database shall be construed in compliance with the GDPR requirements from the building-up of the system (i.e. privacy by design) until the processing operations, providing the requisite security guarantees.

Point of contact for inquiries and Complaints

CISAC and BIEM welcome the inclusion of the need for the MLC to provide a point of contact for inquiries or Complaints. However, as requested in our submission SG20-0614, the Proposed Rulemaking should go further and also make mandatory the publication of the rules that will be applied by the MLC’s dispute resolution committee. This will help to streamline and give more transparency to the dispute resolution process, which will benefit both copyright owners and DMPs.

Future of Music Coalition Warns Against Vendor Lock-in in Copyright Office Comments

[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.

Read the entire post here.