The US Copyright Office is undertaking a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing methods of licensing music. Sections 112, 114 and 115 of the US Copyright Act are currently under review and in this evaluation stage, the Copyright Office has opened up a public forum.
Section 114 deals with the licensing provisions (and restrictions) of ASCAP and BMI for compositions. Section 115 deals with the statutory mechanical royalty rate for compositions (which is currently 9.1 cents for reproduction and fluctuates for streaming services depending on the number of subscribers).
Section 112 deals with the statutory rates for sound recordings on non-interactive digital streaming services (like Pandora, Sirius/XM and internet radio). SoundExchange is the only organization, created by Congress in 2000 (and launched in 2003), that collects sound recording royalties.
Every song holds two copyrights:
One for the composition (the song – controlled by the songwriter or publisher) and one for the sound recording (the actual master recording, controlled by the record label or the artist). SoundExchange collects and pays out royalties ONLY for the sound recording. Performing Rights Organizations (ASCAP and BMI) collect and pay out royalties for the composition.
The Us Copyright Office originally was allowing comments through their submission form on copyright.gov from March 17th – May 16th, however, the Office explains
“To ensure commenters have sufficient time to address the topics set forth in the March 2014 Notice of Inquiry, the Office is extending the time for filing written comments from May 16, 2014 to May 23, 2014.”
They will be holding public roundtable discussions in June in Nashville, Los Angeles and New York.
If you would like to submit your thoughts you can do that here.
You can read more about the music licensing study here.