Frequently Asked Questions

Historical Unmatched: Impact of Prior Settlements

You were identified by Spotify (formally Spotify USA Inc.) and/or YouTube (formally Google, Inc./YouTube) as a party to one or more licenses, releases, or other agreements containing a release of royalty claims for the period of time specified (as applicable, “Agreement”). Relying on such Agreement(s), these Digital Service Providers (“DSP(s)”) reduced the amount of accrued historical unmatched royalties each transferred to The MLC. 

 (Please see the press release here to learn more about the transfer of accrued historical unmatched royalties to The MLC. At the time the accrued historical unmatched royalties were transferred to The MLC, the US Copyright Office (USCO) permitted DSPs to make a good faith estimate of the amount of royalties due.)

Under the USCO regulations, The MLC is required to notify impacted copyright owners of their right to dispute a DSP’s reliance on an Agreement in making estimated royalty payments for accrued historical unmatched uses.

You must submit a Notice of Dispute to The MLC. NOTE: The deadline for most copyright owners  to submit the Notice of Dispute is October 5, 2022 see next FAQ below. There are two ways to submit a Notice of Dispute to The MLC.

  1. Online submission (preferred): If you received an email from The MLC, there is a link to a form that may be completed by a person duly authorized to complete the certification and the information required (noted above).
  2. By Mail: You may provide a written Notice of Dispute with the information required (noted above) and mail it to:

Mechanical Licensing Collective

Attn: Legal Department

333 11th Ave South

Suite 200

Nashville, TN 37203

If you choose to mail the Notice of Dispute, send by a reputable overnight delivery service (charges prepaid) or certified mail, postage prepaid, return receipt requested.

The Notice of Dispute must:

  1. Describe the basis for the dispute (e.g., the royalties withheld by the DSP are not covered under the voluntary license or private agreement identified and relied on by the DSP, the private agreement is not sufficiently identified, etc.) with as much detail as possible; and
  2. Specify whether you are disputing the DSP’s reliance on the voluntary license or private agreement with respect to:
  • potential distributions based on usage ultimately matched to your works; and/or
  • unmatched accrued royalties that are ultimately distributed based on relative market share.
  1. Contain a certification by the copyright owner that the dispute is reasonable and made in good faith.

For most copyright owners, the deadline to submit a Notice of Dispute is October 5, 2022. You must submit your Notice of Dispute to The MLC no later than one year after being notified by The MLC, and The MLC sent Notices of Right to Dispute on October 5, 2021.

If a proper Notice of Dispute is provided to The MLC, The MLC will take the following actions (as required by the USCO regulation):

  1. The MLC will provide a copy of the Notice of Dispute to the applicable DSP.
  2. When royalties subject to the Notice of Dispute become due (e.g.., when works are matched and the DSP is invoiced), The MLC will collect the amount of royalties in dispute from the DSP.
  3. The MLC will hold these royalties in an interest-bearing account. The amount will include the interest that would have accrued on such amount if The MLC had been holding it when the accrued historical unmatched royalties were transferred in February 2021. (See this press release for more information).
  4. The MLC will release those royalties on one of two occurrences:
    1. First, if the dispute is resolved by settlement or court judgment/order, The MLC with release the funds royalties as directed in the judgment/order.
    2. Second, if one year after The MLC collects the royalties from the applicable DSP, you are not engaged in active dispute resolution with the DSP, the Copyright Office regulation requires that The MLC return those royalties to the DSP.
      As an example: 

Assume that on December 1, 2022, The MLC identifies certain previously unmatched uses by the DSP (either Spotify or YouTube) that match to a catalog and time period covered by a Notice of Dispute.

The MLC invoices the DSP for those matched royalties.  

The DSP pays the disputed royalties to The MLC on December 20, 2022, and The MLC holds those disputed royalties in an interest-bearing account. 

If, on December 20, 2023, (i.e., one year after royalties are received by The MLC) the dispute has not been resolved and the copyright owner is not engaged in active dispute resolution with the DSP, then The MLC is required to refund those disputed royalties to the DSP.

Specifically, the regulation states, “If the mechanical licensing collective has not been so directed within one year after the funds have been received from the digital music provider, and if there is no active dispute resolution occurring at that time, the mechanical licensing collective shall treat the funds as an overpayment.

The MLC will notify all parties who have provided Notices of Dispute when it receives royalties from a DSP.

If you do not submit a Notice of Dispute, then the Copyright Office regulations will deem that you do not dispute the claim of the applicable DSP, and you will, therefore, not receive payments from The MLC in connection with historical unmatched uses by that DSP for the works and the period identified by that DSP for you. This includes payments for previously unmatched uses that The MLC matches to such works, as well as any distributions of historical unmatched royalties based upon market share for such period.


Please email with any questions or if you think you should have received a notice from The MLC.

If you received a Legal Notice from The MLC, then either Spotify or Google/YouTube (as applicable) identified you as a party to a license, settlement, or other agreement containing a release of royalty claims. You may submit a Notice of Dispute citing that you do not believe you are a party to such an agreement as the basis for your dispute.

The regulation outlining this entire process is found in 37 CFR 210.10(c)(5). You can also reference the regulation along with supplementary information as published in the Federal Register here.




Please email if you have any specific questions. 

Please also note, however, that The MLC is only coordinating communications between copyright owners and Spotify and/or Google/YouTube. The MLC will not engage in or resolve any disputes and cannot provide legal advice. 



We encourage you to seek counsel from a qualified attorney to address questions specific to your circumstances.