Statement on the Designation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective


In response to the US Copyright Office’s recent request for comments regarding the designation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective, the SCL submitted the following statement.

The Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL) is the premier organization for film, television, video game and musical theatre composers and lyricist with a distinguished 74-year history of creating music for visual media. While the vast majority of our members are based in North America, we have many others around the world and our international affiliations with like organizations allows us to speak on behalf of thousands of music creators. It is with this voice that we welcome the opportunity to offer our comments on the proposed establishment of the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC).

As an ardent supporter of the Orrin G. Hatch – Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act, the SCL was pleased to see the MLC as a potential solution to the existing problem of countless Notices of Intent (NOIs) going unchecked and the revenues not finding their way to the rightful stakeholders. For decades, the “black box” has been a convenient means of obfuscating unmatched royalties by collection agents throughout the world: a situation the SCL hopes will be avoided by proper vetting of the two contenders currently vying to establish and run the MLC.

The SCL readily acknowledges the collective expertise and experience of the members comprising each group. However, the SCL has chosen to endorse neither due to certain concerns we believe would best be addressed by public debate or round tables whereby interested parties could seek clarification of such issues.

One of the major concerns of the SCL is the vast disparity between the establishment and ongoing maintenance costs put forth by the two contenders. Since these administrative expenses would otherwise flow through to the rightful stakeholders, the disproportion deserves scrutiny.

We also believe that a substantial amount, if not the majority of unmatched royalties have been, and will continue to be, generated by independent, foreign and/or unpublished music creators. Therefore, it is the SCL’s opinion that a degree of international oversight be considered.

Subsequent to this, the SCL finds it troubling that after three years, any unmatched income will be distributed based on market share determined by works streamed on the major services. This could easily serve as a disincentive to actively seek and identify the rightful parties, with expiration of the search period deeming the revenues distributed to those who are least entitled to them.

Finally, the SCL believes the opportunity afforded by the establishment of the MLC to correct anomalies in the system is long overdue but the importance of “getting it right” cannot be overstated. It is with sincere intentions, that we respectfully ask your office to facilitate and convene some form of public hearing where all parties can present their case, air their concerns, and be satisfied they were heard.


Ashley Irwin
The Society of Composers & Lyricists