Music Licensing 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.