Should the @CopyrightOffice begin at the beginning with the MLC’s First Five Year Review?

(ii) Periodic review of designation.—Following the initial designation of the mechanical licensing collective, the Register shall, every 5 years, beginning with the fifth full calendar year to commence after the initial designation, publish notice in the Federal Register in the month of January soliciting information concerning whether the existing designation should be continued, or a different entity meeting the criteria described in clauses (i) through (iii) of subparagraph (A) shall be designated. Following publication of such notice, the Register shall—

(I) after reviewing the information submitted and conducting additional proceedings as appropriate, publish notice in the Federal Register of a continuing designation or new designation of the mechanical licensing collective, as the case may be, and the reasons for such a designation, with any new designation to be effective as of the first day of a month that is not less than 6 months and not longer than 9 months after the date on which the Register publishes the notice, as specified by the Register; and

(II) if a new entity is designated as the mechanical licensing collective, adopt regulations to govern the transfer of licenses, funds, records, data, and administrative responsibilities from the existing mechanical licensing collective to the new entity.

The MLC is going to start its first five year review in January, 2024. What should be covered in that review? One might say, let us consider our assumptions, which must include whether there needs to be a compulsory license at all for song copyrights. Unlike the sound recording copyright, songwriters have never had much to say about the rates and terms of the compulsory license unless they kiss the ring and become the anointed ones allowed to sit at the kids’ table. Plus, the statutory compulsory license for streaming mechanicals is such a complex calculation is it any wonder so few are interested enough to run the risk of cancellation that goes with challenging Rube Goldberg?

The continued need for a song compulsory license is just the kind of information that Reps. Jordan and Issa could use in case they were inclined to just get rid of it. It would be a great topic for the Copyright Office to study and hold round tables on, this time preferably lead by a Copyright Office lawyer who was not being recruited by Spotify.

I’m sure there are many songwriters who would like to participate on this overarching issue that informed the frozen mechanicals debate.