Periodic Review of The MLC’s Designation

In 2019, The MLC was designated by the Register of Copyrights to administer the blanket license. The Music Modernization Act (MMA) requires that the Register review that designation every five years. This page provides more information on this periodic review process.

How and when does the periodic review of designation begin?

The MMA requires the Register to initiate the periodic review of designation by publishing a notice in the Federal Register, soliciting information concerning whether the designation of The MLC should continue. This notice is to be published in the month of January every five years, beginning in 2024.

The full MMA provision for the periodic review of designation is 17 U.S.C. 115(d)(3)(B)(ii), which can be found here.

What are the criteria for designation?

The MMA establishes certain criteria that the entity seeking to be the mechanical licensing collective must meet in order to be designated. The MLC is the only entity that met all of these criteria during the original designation process in 2019.

The MMA states that the collective must be:

  1. a nonprofit entity, not owned by any other entity, that is created by copyright owners to carry out responsibilities under this subsection;
  1. endorsed by, and enjoys substantial support from, musical work copyright owners that together represent the greatest percentage of the licensor market for uses of such works in covered activities, as measured over the preceding 3 full calendar years; and
  1. able to demonstrate to the Register that the entity has [or, in connection with initial designation in 2019, will have prior to the license availability date], the administrative and technological capabilities to perform the required functions of the mechanical licensing collective under 17 U.S.C. 115(d) and that is governed by a board of directors in accordance with subparagraph 17 U.S.C. 115(d)(3)(D)(i).

What happens during the periodic review process?

The Register issued its notice to begin the proceedings to review the designation of The MLC on January 30, 2024. The notice outlines the following timeline:

  • On April 1, The MLC (and DLC) each filed a submission supporting the continuation of designation. You can read The MLC's initial submission here.
  • On or before May 29, the public had the opportunity to file initial comments on The MLC (and DLC) submission.
  • On or before June 28, the public has the opportunity to file replies to other initial comments.
  • On or before July 29, The MLC (and DLC) will file replies to the public comments.

The notice provides more details about the specific steps in the proceeding. In addition to receiving information about continuing The MLC’s designation, the Register is authorized to conduct additional proceedings as appropriate.

After concluding the proceedings, the Register will publish a decision in the Federal Register together with the reasons for such decision.

What are the possible outcomes of the periodic review process?

The Register can continue the designation of The MLC or make a new designation. The Register is not at this time accepting proposals from other entities to replace The MLC. The Register has said that if it decides not to continue The MLC’s designation, only then would it solicit proposals from other entities. Thus, these proceedings are to focus only on The MLC and not on any other competing entity. The Register cannot change the provisions of the MMA, the structure of The MLC’s governance that is set forth in the MMA, or the blanket license royalty rates or terms.