July 20, 2017

Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act Promotes a Vibrant Music Licensing Marketplace
Bill Would Assist Artists, Songwriters, Local Businesses, Broadcasters, Venues, Online Music Services, and Consumers with Copyright Information

Washington, DC — The MIC Coalition, a partnership of associations committed to a transparent and sustainable music licensing system, announced its enthusiastic support for bipartisan legislation introduced today by Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and cosponsored by Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), and Steve Chabot (R-OH) to establish a searchable, digital database of historical and current copyright ownership and licensing information.

The Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act is a major step forward in creating a music licensing system that is open and accessible to those who both own and license music. The proposed legislation would create for the first time a public database that provides all stakeholders in the music marketplace with access to authoritative and fully searchable records of music ownership and licensing information, free-of-charge to users and updated in real time.

Notably, the establishment of such a database was a core component of recommendations included in the House Judiciary Committee’s December 2016 White Paper containing proposed reforms to the U.S. Copyright Office — the natural home for public records of copyright information.

All stakeholders in the music marketplace benefit when current and accurate information about copyright ownership and licensing is easily accessible. Despite explosive growth in access to information online, no comprehensive and actionable database of music copyright ownership and licensing exists today. Instead, there are a small number of proprietary databases that cover only some copyrighted works, like those maintained by the performing rights organizations (PROs) that license song performances. Those databases are not only not comprehensive or interoperable, they explicitly state that users cannot rely on the information to make licensing decisions. As a result, businesses that offer music have no ability to make rational decisions about which licenses best fit their music needs.

The lack of an authoritative public database creates problems for venues and small businesses including restaurants, taverns, wineries, and hotels. For example, venues are declining to host live musicians rather than risk potential liability due to lack of up-to-date and actionable licensing information. The lack of a database is also a challenge for local broadcasters and digital music streaming services that rely on accurate copyright information to provide music to millions of consumers.

The MIC Coalition, which represents millions of entities across the nation that support artists and songwriters through their promotion and licensed use of music, believes that transparency is a necessary baseline in creating a more sustainable and equitable system. This legislation is an essential step to promoting a vibrant economy for music and greater fairness in the music marketplace overall.


About the MIC Coalition

MIC (pronounced “Mike”, as in “Microphone”) Coalition is a group of associations whose members provide music in retail establishments, hotels, restaurants, bars, wineries, and taverns throughout the country, as well as over the nation’s airwaves and the internet. The Coalition is committed to a rational, sustainable and transparent system that will drive the future of music and ensure that consumers have continued access to music across a variety of platforms, venues and services.