Expert Comments

CRB receives second round of “frozen mechanicals” comments from international songwriter groups

Music Creators North America has again joined with our member organizations, the Songwriters Guild of America and the Society of Composers & Lyricists, and with individual music creators Rick Carnes and Ashley Irwin to file further comments regarding the proposed freezing of U.S. mechanical royalty rates.

These comments were submitted to the US Copyright Royalty Board on November 22, 2021 and are endorsed by the following music creator organizations:

  • Alliance for Women Film Composers (AWFC)
  • Alliance of Latin American Composers & Authors (AlcaMusica)
  • Asia-Pacific Music Creators Alliance (APMA)
  • European Composers and Songwriters Alliance (ECSA)
  • The Ivors Academy (IVORS)
  • Music Answers (M.A.)
  • Pan-African Composers and Songwriters Alliance (PACSA)
  • Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC)
  • Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC)
Download the complete document here

Summary of Issues Discussed in these Comments

We welcome this opportunity to offer these further comments on a number of important issues, highlighted by the following four principles:

1. The Statutory Importance of Outside Party Comments to CRB Decision Making

We strenuously object to the position of the major publishers and record labels that submissions by interested, non-participant commenters need not be considered by the CRB in evaluating the adoption of privately negotiated settlements.

That claim, contrary to the spirit and letter of the US Copyright Act, was made apparent in the “COMMENTS IN FURTHER SUPPORT OF THE SETTLEMENT OF STATUTORY ROYALTY RATES AND TERMS FOR SUBPART B CONFIGURATIONS” jointly submitted to the CRB on August 10, 2021 by the National Music Publishers Association (“NMPA”), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (“NSAI”), and the major record labels Universal Music Group Recordings (“UMG”), Sony Music Entertainment (“SME”), and Warner Music Group Corp (“WMG”) (together referred to herein as the “Major Music Conglomerates”).

2. The Unfairness and Inadvisability of Adopting the Frozen Subpart B Mechanical Royalty Rate Proposal

We strongly oppose any rulemaking that would result in the adoption by the CRB of a proposed, continued freeze on mechanical royalty rates for physical phonorecords, permanent downloads, ringtones, and music bundles as proposed to the CRB by the Major Music Conglomerates.

Rather, we urge establishment of a new, Subpart B base royalty rate reflective of changes to the US Consumer Price Index since 2006, with a built-in, cost-of-living mechanism to adjust such rate(s) on an annual basis throughout the Phonorecords IV rate period. Such a system will recognize both the severe financial dangers posed to songwriters and composers by the inflationary times in which we now live, and the demonstrably resurging importance to independent music creators and music publishers of royalty income realized from the distribution of physical product, downloads and other Subpart B configurations.

3. Avoiding the Rate-Setting Precedent That an Overwhelming Percentage of US and Global Songwriters and Composers Do Not Want and Cannot Afford

We vehemently protest the potential establishment of a precedent that would be set by yet another five-year extension of Subpart B frozen mechanical rates as requested by the vertically integrated Major Music Conglomerates, a proposal that is now being broadly used as a pretext by digital music distributors to propose the freezing or lowering of the already paltry streaming royalty rates they are obligated to pay.

4. The Importance of Future, Non-Participant Music Creator Comments in Phonorecord IV and Other Proceedings

We enthusiastically support continued calls for comments by the CRB from interested parties in appropriate circumstances during all future stages of the Phonorecord IV and other proceedings. This will help to ensure that more music creator voices are heard by the CRB, other than the extremely narrow constituency of opinions provided by only those whose participation the Major Music Conglomerates are willing to finance.


(Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash)

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