Unclaimed Royalties Study

As directed by the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the U.S. Copyright Office is undertaking a public study, in consultation with the Government Accountability Office, 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.

On June 2, 2020, the Office issued a Federal Register notice soliciting public comments for this study. Public comments were due August 3, 2020, and reply comments were due August 31, 2020. The Office held public roundtables for this study on March 25-26, 2021, via Zoom.

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.