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U.S. Copyright Office

U.S. Copyright Office To Hold Public Roundtables On Unclaimed Royalties

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WASHINGTON D.C. (CelebrityAccess) — The U.S. Copyright Office announced plans to hold public roundtables as it studies the issue of unclaimed, or so-called ‘black box’ royalties on March 25th.

The roundtables, which will be held on March 25th via the remote meeting app Zoom due to the pandemic, are part of a study to recommend best practices that the mechanical licensing collective created by the Music Modernization Act to identify and distribute unclaimed royalties held by the MRC.

Unclaimed royalties, known as ‘black box’ income, happen when the name of a publisher or writer for a particular piece of IP cannot be located by a collection society. Such royalties often come from overseas where a songwriter or publisher might not be registered with a local collection society.

Writers who are owed royalties, but who are unable to be located, are often referred to as “lost writers.”

According to an estimate compiled by Billboard, there may be as much as $250 million in black box royalties.

Members of the public who wish to participate in a roundtable session should complete and submit the form available on the Office’s website no later than February 26, 2021. The copyright office will notify participants of their selection and panel assignments shortly thereafter.

The office also commissioned a report by Music Confidential’s Susan Butler which explains the matching and royalty distribution practices of certain collective management organizations (CMOs) around the world.

Like the educational symposium, Ms. Butler’s report is being provided by aso that it can be considered by the public submitting comments. The report is available here.

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