U.S. Copyright Office tells MLC how to identify rights holders, distribute $11M in unclaimed royalties
The U.S. Copyright Office has released its recommendations as to how the Mechanical Licensing Collective can best identify rights holders and distribute unclaimed royalties.
According to the Copyright Office, the recommendations are meant to be comprehensive and range from high-level strategy to detailed suggestions, particularly in relation to holding and distributing unclaimed accrued royalties. The suggestions cover a range of subjects, from the MLC’s education and outreach activities to the usability of the MLC’s public-facing systems and services, data quality, matching practices, holding and distributing unclaimed accrued royalties, measuring success, and transparency.
The recommendations were developed by the Copyright Office following a symposium in December 2019, and after collecting input from a wide variety of stakeholders.
Special Music Confidential Study
The Office also commissioned a report by Music Confidential’s Susan Butler on matching and royalty distribution practices of certain collective management organizations (CMOs) around the world.
Butler’s report contains information about various CMOs’ approaches to obtaining ownership information, reducing the instance of unclaimed royalties, and royalty distribution, which can be found here.
The Mechanical Licensing Collective, which was created by the 2018 Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act, released distributed royalties for the first time in April. At the time, the MLC reported that it was able to match approximately 80 percent of the royalties reported to musical works registered in its public database. According to the MLC, that amounted to about $11 million dollars in unclaimed royalties in from its first distribution of approximately $53 million in royalties.
All of the royalties currently pending distribution will accrue interest until they are distributed, as required by the MMA.
The full Copyright Office report can be found here.