MLC Chooses As “Digital Services Provider” Company That Sent Fraudulent License Notices To Songwriters
The new Music Licensing Collective board of directors has chosen the third-party licensing company, the Harry Fox Administration (HFA), to be its digital service provider. That’s the same HFA that musician and artist advocate David Lowery alleges sent songwriters fraudulent license notices.
Guest post by Dr. David C Lowery from The Trichordist
The picture above shows dozens of backdated “NOIs” for compulsory mechanical licenses sent to me by HFA in 2016. By purporting to be valid NOIs for licenses when they were not, HFA committed mail fraud.
Music Row is reporting the music licensing collective board of directors has selected HFA as a digital service provider:
Technology company ConsenSys and mechanical licensing administrator Harry Fox Agency(HFA) received unanimous approval from the MLC Board to become the primary vendors responsible for managing the matching of digital uses to musical works, distributing mechanical royalties, and onboarding songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers and their catalogs to the database.
The problem is that HFA was the 3rd party licensing contractor hired by Spotify and other streaming services to obtain licenses from songwriters and publishers. HFA did not properly do their job leaving streaming services exposed to massive copyright infringement lawsuits (from people like me). They created the problem that led to the creation of the Music Licensing Collective so now they are rewarded with the contract to run the matching of musical works and paying artists?!?! Didn’t they just fail spectacularly when asked by Spotify to do this job? Didn’t the Spotify class action and the four other private lawsuits prove HFA incapable of doing the job?
Even worse, in order to attempt to cover up the mess, they sent me, many fraudulent “Notices of Intent” or NOIs that purported to execute the federal compulsory mechanical license. They were not valid as they were backdated to make it appear they had sent the notices before the songs were streamed. I regret now that we didn’t pursue a RICO case against these folks when we were pursuing the copyright infringement cases against the streaming services. (See the screenshots below.)
Here’s what the DOJ says about mail fraud.
940. 18 U.S.C. SECTION 1341—ELEMENTS OF MAIL FRAUD
“There are two elements in mail fraud: (1) having devised or intending to devise a scheme to defraud (or to perform specified fraudulent acts), and (2) use of the mail for the purpose of executing, or attempting to execute, the scheme (or specified fraudulent acts).” Schmuck v. United States, 489 U.S. 705, 721 n. 10 (1989); see also Pereira v. United States, 347 U.S. 1, 8 (1954) (“The elements of the offense of mail fraud under . . . § 1341 are (1) a scheme to defraud, and (2) the mailing of a letter, etc., for the purpose of executing the scheme.”); Laura A. Eilers & Harvey B. Silikovitz, Mail and Wire Fraud, 31 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 703, 704 (1994) (cases cited).
Oh and one more thing. HFA was the company that was supposed to pay these streaming royalties back out to the songwriters. They didn’t do that either. Where is that money? Shouldn’t the Copyright Office look into this?
This is a travesty. The members of the MLC and those that purport to represent songwriters (I’m looking at you NSAI, SONA) have some serious explaining to do to songwriters. This company was one of the main reasons songwriters didn’t get their mechanicals for 7 going on 8 years. What the fuck were you guys thinking?
Dr. David C Lowery: Platinum selling singer songwriter for the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven; platinum selling producer; founder of pitch-a-tent records; founder Sound of Music Studios; platinum selling music publisher; angel investor; digital skeptic; college lecturer and founder of the University of Georgia Terry College Artists’ Rights Symposium.