[Editor Charlie sez: Remarkably balanced post for a trade paper, considering, about very high level issues with MLC. Not the usual fearful rah rah please don’t hit me.]
The MLC (Mechanical Licensing Collective) is, depending on who you speak to, one of many things: for some, it’s both the future and the saviour of digital music licensing online for publishers; for others, it’s a well-intentioned pipe dream that, like Bambi on the frozen pond, probably will not have the legs to support its upper body weight; and for the more cynical, it’s a furnace into which tens of millions of dollars will be tipped and all we’ll get at the end is soot and ash.
Let’s start, however, with the facts of the matter, explaining why it was set up, what it wants to achieve and how it says it will go about achieving that.
It was established to issue and administer blanket mechanical licenses for the streaming and downloading of musical works on DSPs. The MLC will also collect the due royalties and distribute them to songwriters, composers, lyricists and music publishers. It was brought into being after the Music Modernization Act (MMA) was signed into US law in October 2018 and, as dictated by the US Copyright Office, had to submit its proposals to the Copyright Royalty Board to outline its structure, goals and funding.
The MLC operates as a non-profit (i.e. it does not take a cut on the royalties it brings in and distributes) and will be funded by the DSPs who secure their blanket licenses through it. It has $37.25m to get it up and running and will receive an initial $29m a year when it is operational and issuing its blanket licenses.
For reference, read the recently granted emergency powers of the head of the U.S. Copyright Office which include extending the date of the fully-funded, no excuses delivery schedule of the MLC. Gee, we are just so confused about how that power managed to get included in an 800 page bill. Here it is: “If the Register adjusts the license availability date, the Register must provide the statement to Congress…at the same time as the public notice of such adjustment with a detailed explanation of why such adjustment is needed.” So this is how they’re going to do it. They’ll do it by fiat, no public comment required from the little people. Just remember–civil libertarians still talk about how President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War.