Stephen Hill, in an email to me, writes: "Yesterday the erstwhile Marybeth Peters, U.S. Registrar of Copyrights (she runs the copyright office) testified before the Senate "Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, Committee on the Judiciary" and proposed a sweeping change in the licensing structure for digital music. Here's the link. ¶ If I can summarize 15 pages in a sentence....she is saying flatly that music licensing is currently dysfunctional and attempting to set up "one-stop licensing" for everything to do with the music publishers. ¶ Her proposal would fold the functions of the Harry Fox Agency (mechanical licenses for reproduction and distribution) into the existing performance rights agencies ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC and turn them into "MRO's" -- Music Rights Organizations. She would abolish the "compulsory mechanical license" provision of the copyright act and let the market set the rates for this integrated digital transmission license, which would work for both streams and downloads. This is what we need for podcasting or any other download service. ¶ Note that this would still leave Sound Exchange as the sole agency for collection of the music recording copyright fees, which are setup by the DMCA and are split by the record company and artist 50-50; so if Ms. Peters proposal is adopted it would still mean "2-stop licensing." Still, it would be progress. ¶ Give it few more years and this digital media thing might amount to something."
Here's some commentary by legal analyst Mona Shokrai about the proposal in digital music news: Reform Proposal Targets Section 115 of Copyright Act. Thanks again, Stephen. --Dennis