Mechanical Royalty Rates
  Frequently Asked Questions




Q: What is copyright?
A: The United States Copyright office defines a copyright as “a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.”

Q: What does copyright cover?
A: Copyright covers both published and unpublished works. Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.

Q: What is a performing rights organization?
A: A performing rights organization collects song royalties generated from public performances and broadcasts, including but not limited to radio, television, and film.

Q: What are Synchronization Rights?
A: Synchronization Rights are granted by the owner of a composition to an individual or company for use of the work in a visual medium, including but not limited to television and film.

Q: What are Master Use Rights?
A: Master Use Rights allow an individual or company to use an existing recording for various purposes, like audio and video projects.

Q: So what is the difference between Synchronization Rights and Master Use Rights?
A: Synchronization Rights only license the composition itself; Master Use Rights only license the sound recording. In order to use a recorded song in a film, for example, both Synchronization and Master Use Rights must be licensed as they represent two separate copyrights.

Q: What is a Compulsory Mechanical License and what is the corresponding Statutory Rate?
A: The mechanical license was the first compulsory license created in US Copyright law, originating in 1909. A Compulsory Mechanical License allows an individual or company to record, distribute, reproduce and sell a composition in exchange for a royalty paid to the owner for each sale pursuant to the guidelines of US Copyright. The Statutory Rate was set by the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel until November 30, 2004 when the Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act of 2004 replaced CARP with a system of three Copyright Royalty Judges. These judges will determine rates and terms for the copyright statutory licenses and make determinations on distribution of statutory license royalties collected by the Copyright Office.

Copyright Royalty Rates

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