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Copyright Office Confirms NMPA-Endorsed Mechanical Licensing Collective

The U.S. Copyright Office today announced that it has designated the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) — which is backed by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), and the Songwriters of North America (SONA) — as the new entity tasked with licensing and administering rights under the Music Modernization Act.

The designated MLC’s board includes chairman Alisa Coleman (ABKCO) and directors Jeff Brabec (BMG), Peter Brodsky (Sony/ATV), Bob Bruderman (Kobalt), Tim Cohan (peermusic), Scott Cutler (Pulse Music Group), Paul Kahn (Warner/Chappell Music), David Kokakis (UMPG), Mike Molinar (Big Machine Music), Evelyn Paglinawan (Concord Music), Kara DioGuardi (Songs by KDG), Oak Felder (Crow’s Tree Publishing), Kevin Kadish (We Are Made of Music), and Tim Nichols (THiS Music). Non-voting members include NMPA EVP & GC Danielle Aguirre and NSAI Executive Director Bart Herbison. The MLC was chosen over a group called the American Mechanical Licensing Collective.

According to the announcement, the decision allows the group to formally begin operations. This will include the negotiation of a budget with the digital streaming services who, by law, must fund the collective. It will also include partnering with a vendor to provide administration and matching services and development of a user portal through which publishers and songwriters will be able to manage rights and royalties.

The MLC plans to move quickly on all fronts in order to fully launch in January of 2021, the announcement continues. If a funding agreement cannot be voluntarily determined, the MLC and the digital services will go before the Copyright Royalty Board, which will set the MLC’s budget through an assessment proceeding.

NMPA President & CEO David Israelite praised the Copyright Office’s decision saying, “This has been a long, deliberative process and we are pleased with the result. The Copyright Office set a high bar and the team behind the MLC submission was transparent, thorough and representative of the entire music publishing and songwriting community. We look forward to seeing the benefits of the Music Modernization Act come to fruition. As we now move to the funding phase, it is critical that the digital services commit to supporting the MLC properly and become more transparent, starting with disclosing the amount of unmatched money currently at their companies.”

“American songwriters have looked forward to this advance in music licensing for years,” said Steve Bogard, award-winning songwriter and President of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). “The MLC creates a number of historic gains for songwriters including participation in the governance of a mechanical rights agency on both board and committee levels and being guaranteed an activity-based share of unclaimed funds. We have an opportunity now to work with streaming companies to significantly advance digital mechanical licensing efficiency and transparency.”

SONA Executive Director Michelle Lewis praised the decision saying, “SONA would like to thank Karyn Temple and the US Copyright Office for their efforts and their expertise, and we welcome the designation of the coalition-led MLC as the chosen licensing collective. SONA will remain committed to being a guardian of the MMA, which we and other stakeholders worked so hard to pass. We intend to work with this MLC to help educate all songwriters on the importance of accurate registration and to ensure that a state of the art database be built, serving all entitled parties to receive the royalties they have rightfully earned.”

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