Music Business

Hey Alexa, Where’s My Money? An Update On ‘Address Unknown’ Royalty-free Windfall Loophole

Teen_drug_abuse_08_missing_moneyA new update on the status of the exploitation of the 'address unknown' mass NOI filings to the Copyright Office has come out, thanks to Sydney-based Paperchain. Attorney Chris Castle shares a 70% rise in such filings, with Amazon still the champion exploiter, followed by Google and then Spotify.


Guest post by Chris Castle of Music Technology Policy

We get an update this week on the total “address unknown” mass NOIs filed with the Copyright Office for the royalty-free windfall loophole.  This time we have to thank our our friends at Paperchain in Sydney for doing the work of decompressing the massive numbers of unsearchable compressed files posted on the Copyright Office website.  As you can see, there’s been an increase of approximately 70% since January 2017.   (For background, see my article.)

As you can see, Amazon is still far and away the leader in this latest loophole designed to stiff songwriters, followed closely by Google.  However, Spotify is moving on up.  Spotify does get extra points for starting late in March 2017, but they are catching up fast filing over 5,000,000 as of last month.

To put this in context–the Copyright Office as recently as September 2015 posted these “address unknown” NOIs in a single searchable PDF.  However, the Copyright Office  apparently changed the practice abruptly in early 2016 once the Big Tech hammer came down.  Based on the last PDF I could find, the total number of “address unknown” NOIs filed with the copyright office from January 2010 to September 2015 was approximately 4,800.

NOI 2015 Era Date Detail

Compare that approximately 4,800 in five years to approximately 45 million in 18 months.

Notable in its absence:  Apple Music has not filed a single address unknown NOI.  Somehow Apple seems satisfied with their licensing practice based on an absence of a single NOI.

NOI Table 
LicenseePaperchain 4/16-6/17
Amazon Digital Services23,977,548
Google, Inc.10,386,238
iHeart Communications1,565,763
Pandora Media, Inc.1,316,512
The Inc.66,326

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