Law Offices of Vance R. Koven | Latest Blog

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Law Offices of Vance R. Koven | Latest Blog

Copyright Office Music Licensing Survey

Saturday, March 29, 2014

On March 17 the Register of Copyrights (part of the Library of Congress) initiated a study of how the current licensing provisions of the Copyright Act (chiefly but not exclusively concerned with the government-set royalty rates for sound recordings) affect creators and users of music. The study contemplates that people in this line will submit comments (see below). As a composer myself, I'm interested, in both senses of the word, in this subject, but since so far I derive no royalties (alas) from my own music I'm mentioning this here for clients and others who are involved in the music business at the creative (or for that matter the publishing or performance) end. Here's the opening of the notice of the study:


While the Copyright Act reflects many sound and enduring principles, and has enabled the internet to flourish, Congress could not have foreseen all of today’s technologies and the myriad ways consumers and others engage with creative works in the digital environment.  Perhaps nowhere has the landscape been as significantly altered as in the realm of music. 

Music is more available now than it has ever been. Today, music is delivered to consumers not only in physical formats, such as compact discs and vinyl records, but is available on demand, both by download and streaming, as well as through smartphones, computers, and other devices. At the same time, the public continues to consume music through terrestrial and satellite radio, and more recently, internet-based radio. Music continues to enhance films, television, and advertising, and is a key component of many apps and video games. 

Such uses of music require licenses from copyright owners. The mechanisms for obtaining such licenses are largely shaped by our copyright law, including the statutory licenses under Sections 112, 114, and 115 of the Copyright Act, which provide government-regulated licensing regimes for certain uses of sound recordings and musical works.  

The United States Copyright Office is undertaking a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing methods of licensing music. The Office will solicit written comments and hold public meetings to obtain the views of stakeholders and the public on music licensing issues. The Office will use the information gathered during the study to report to Congress. 

The entire notice of the study is available here:

Now comes the exciting part: the cover form for submitting comments to the Copyright Office is here:

However, the idea is to submit a free-form comment, and the deadline for submitting it is May 16. You have to know what you want to say and how you want to say it. If you think you'd like to submit comments but want help in formulating them, feel free to contact me.