The U.S. Copyright Office Studying Effectiveness of Music Licensing

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NARAlogoBy Jooyoung Koo, Esq.

The U.S. Copyright Office has announced that it is studying to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing methods of licensing music.[i] The study will explore current methods and problems within the licensing framework for musical works (basically, compositions) and sound recordings, various distribution platforms, data standards, revenues and investment, and several other issues.[ii]

The study will mainly focus on two types of works: 1) musical works and 2) sound recordings. Within these two, several types of licenses are included: among them a) compulsory licenses for the reproduction and distribution of musical works; b) licenses for the public performance of musical works through, performance rights organizations, such as ASCAP and BMI[iii]; and c) licenses for the public performance of sound recordings by means of digital transmission.

To help with this study, the Copyright Office is seeking public inputs and opinions on the effectiveness of existing methods of licensing music.

Written comments are to be submitted electronically. Please go to U.S. Copyright Office Music Licensing Study Comment Submission Form to fill out your opinions and inputs.  Comments are due on or before May 16, 2014. In addition, the Office will announce one or more public meetings to address music licensing issues to take place after written comments are received.

Much more including background can be found in the full text of The Federal Register notice.


© 2014 Jooyoung Koo

[i] “Congress is currently engaged in a comprehensive review of the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S. C 101 et seq., to evaluate potential revisions of the law in light of technological and other developments that impact the creation, dissemination and use of copyrighted works.” The Federal Register Vol. 78, No. 51, 14739 Monday March 17, 2014, Notices  (Register), available at

[ii] See generally, Register

[iii] ASCAP stands for the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.  ASCAP, is a U.S. Performing Rights Organization representing songwriters, composers and music publishers. Go to for more information.  BMI, Broadcast Music Inc., was created by broadcasters in 1939 as a competitor to ASCAP.  Go to for more information



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