The Mechanical Licensing Collective Is Auditing Streaming Services for the First Time

The Music Licensing Modernization Act (“MLMA”), one of three parts of the Music Modernization Act (“MMA”), established the Mechanical Licensing Collective (“MLC”) to distribute royalties and administer blanket licenses, allowing entities to use any of the works maintained by the MLC for a fee. On January 10, 2024, the MLC filed a Notice of Intent to Audit with the U.S. Copyright Office and delivered a copy of the notice to each digital service provider (“DSP”). MLC will audit usage under the blanket license between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2023. On-demand streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music; internet radio companies like Pandora, Mixcloud and iHeart Radio; and music applications like Ultimate Guitar, PianoTrax and WeavRun will be included in the audit. The purpose of the audits is to ensure the accuracy of reported and paid royalties.

The news of MLC’s auding plans comes one month after Bridgeport Music, known for filing a copyright infringement lawsuit in 2002 against more than 800 defendants who allegedly used sampled elements of recordings or compositions owned by Bridgeport without permission, decided to exercise its right to audit the MLC. If the MLC’s audit leads to the recovery of additional royalties, the MLC will distribute those royalties to the respective rightsholders.