The Public Musical Works Database and Transparency of the Mechanical Licensing Collective
Pursuant to the Musical Works Modernization Act, title I of the Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA), the Copyright Office has issued an interim rule regarding the contents of the public musical work database, database access, and database use as well as issues related to ensuring appropriate transparency of the mechanical licensing collective (MLC).
The MMA directs the Office to issue certain regulations related to the MLC’s creation of a free database to publicly disclose musical work ownership information and identify the sound recordings in which the musical works are embodied. Specifically, the Office is directed to establish requirements to ensure the usability, interoperability, and usage restrictions of the musical works database as well as prescribe certain categories of information to be included in the database contents. In addition, the MLC must “operate in a transparent and accountable manner” and ensure that its “policies and practices . . . are transparent and accountable.”
After soliciting public comments through two notifications of inquiry, a notice of proposed rulemaking, and engaging in numerous ex parte communications with commenters as documented here, the Office issued an interim rule on December 31, 2020, prescribing the categories of information to be included in the public musical works database and rules related to the usability, interoperability, and usage restrictions of the database. The interim rule also requires the MLC to disclose certain categories of information in its statutorily-required annual reports to ensure transparency of the collective itself and specifies requirements related to an abbreviated, one-time written public update in December 2021 regarding the MLC’s operations.