Speaking in Public: Copyright Office Black Box Roundtable

The U.S. Copyright Office has been tasked by Congress with preparing a study that recommends best practices for the mechanical licensing collective to implement.  That study is due not later than two years after the date that the Copyright Office designates the MLC.  The MLC was designated on July 5, 2019, so the study is due July 5, 2021 which is right around the corner.  If you haven’t seen a Copyright Office study, these are very detailed works so I would imagine that the work on the study has been ongoing for a while and will take into account the public comments that the Office has already received.

The benefit of holding the roundtable this week is that the MLC has received $424 million in black box money for the inception to date payments.  This helps to put a value on how important this study is because even in Washington, a million here and a million there and pretty soon you’re talking about real money to paraphrase Everett Dirksen.  Because the public written comments were received before we knew how much was at stake, we are now mindful of Senator Feinstein’s warning at the Music Modernization Act hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee: “I’ve heard some estimates that these unclaimed royalties could be as high as hundreds of millions of dollars, so this indeed is a very big deal and requires a good long look.”


The roundtables have a lot of very smart people on them and I’m pleased that the Copyright Office included me for some unknown reason (conclusively demonstrating there is no accounting for taste).  My panel is in the morning session on March 25 which kicks off at 10 am ET.  Here’s the skinny on attending:

On March 23, 2021, the Office will make general attendee Zoom links available on its website so that members of the public may observe the roundtable sessions. For those wishing to provide oral testimony in the Audience Participation portions of the event, a sign-up form for Audience Participation will be available on the Office’s website starting March 22, 2021. For additional information, please visit the Office’s website.