Unclaimed Royalties Study

As directed by the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the United States Copyright Office, in consultation with the Government Accountability Office, has issued a public report to recommend best practices that the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) may implement to effectively identify and locate copyright owners with unclaimed royalties of musical works, encourage copyright owners to claim accrued royalties, and ultimately reduce the incidence of unclaimed royalties. The best practice recommendations were developed after careful consideration of the views and suggestions made by a wide variety of stakeholders.

Reflecting the broad diversity of opinions and perspectives expressed by commenters, the Office’s recommendations are meant to be comprehensive and range from high-level conceptual notions to detailed suggestions (particularly those relating to holding and distributing unclaimed accrued royalties). They relate to the MLC’s education and outreach activities, usability of the MLC’s public-facing systems and services, data quality, matching practices, holding and distributing unclaimed accrued royalties, measuring success, and transparency.

Kickoff Symposium

To initiate the Unclaimed Royalties Study, the Office held an all-day educational symposium on December 6, 2019, at the Library of Congress's Madison Building, to facilitate discussion on these issues by broad industry participants and other interested members of the public. Further information about the symposium may be found in the Office’s Notice. The educational symposium was the first step in the Office’s study, and a transcript and videos of the symposium are available for the public’s review.

Commissioned Report

The Office also commissioned a report by Music Confidential’s Susan Butler on matching and royalty distribution practices of certain collective management organizations (CMOs) around the world. Ms. Butler’s report contains information about various CMOs’ approaches to obtaining ownership information, reducing the instance of unclaimed royalties, and royalty distribution. Like the educational symposium, Ms. Butler’s report is being provided by the Office so that it may be considered by the public in submitting comments for the Office’s policy study. Further information concerning Ms. Butler’s report may be found here.