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Theatrical License

Permission to perform a theatrical production of a song that someone else wrote. To get a Print License, you need to contact the copyright holder directly. This is typically the publisher or an agency.
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Annual Statement of Account
The final step of the compulsory mechanical licensing procedures, this report provides to copyright holders the annual distribution details of a work licensed under compulsory law. The notice includes information about the distribution of a project including actual quantities distributed for the year. It is audited and signed by a certified public accountant. It is due shortly after the end of the year.
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Arrangement
A new sheet music composition based on the music notes or lyrics of an existing song. By law, only the composer may create a new arrangement of their song or give permission to do so through a Print License. Typically, new arrangements are copyrighted by the original composer regardless who creates the new arrangement. Sometimes publishers will copyright their arrangements of Public Domain works.
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Arranger
An individual who creates a new arrangement of an existing song.
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Brick and Mortar Distribution
Delivery of musical product through real physical stores such as Best Buy, Target or your local music store.
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Cassette Tape
A magnetic tape sound recording format that was the standard medium for delivery of music through retail channels during the seventies and eighties.
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Compact Disc
A optical disc sound recording format that has been a major medium for delivery of music through retail channels since the nineties.
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Composer
An individual who writes music notes or lyrics for a new, original song.
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Compulsory Licensing
The process of getting permission to use copyrighted materials through United States copyright law provisions that mandate that copyright holders issue licenses to licensees when they follow certain procedures described in the law. The law includes compulsory provisions for various uses of copyrighted materials. For music, there are mechanical compulsory provisions and streaming and limited (subscription) download provisions.
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Compulsory Mechanical Licensing Law
A process, defined in the copyright law, that mandates that copyright holders issue mechanical licenses to licensees who follow the compulsory licensing procedures. Those procedures require the licensee to notify the copyright holder, report distribution details, and provide a royalty payment at the statutory rate.
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Copyright
The United States Copyright Law that protects musicians and helps them make money with their music. The law provides six protections that give musicians exclusive rights to use their music in a variety of ways. Musicians own the exclusive right to perform publicly, play recordings publicly, distribute recordings, distribute sheet music, and to create arrangements.
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Copyright Date
The date a work was copyrighted. Works are automatically copyrighted as soon as they are fixed in tangible form. We recommend registering a work with the copyright office for more solid legal proof of the date of conception and because it is required if you will take legal action in a US court.
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Cover Song
A new recorded version of you or your group playing a song that someone else wrote.
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Custom License Agreement
A custom-negotiated agreement between the licensee and the copyright holder, to get permission to use copyrighted music. Custom agreements may include any number of stipulations, and they can be rejected outright by either party. Compulsory law helps licensees avoid custom agreements for some music uses.
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Digital Download
A Digital Download (also known as an MP3 Download, Digital Phonorecord Delivery, DPD, Permanent Digital Download, PDD) is when an audio file is permanently moved from one computer to another and stored for unlimited future listening. Think of this like a CD album or single purchase that you bring home for future private listening.
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Distribution
Delivery of musical product to the end user. Distribution happens whenever product leaves possession of the licensee, regardless of whether it is sold or given away for free.
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Download
See 'Digital Download'.
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DPD
Abbreviation for Digital Phonorecord Delivery. See 'Digital Download'.
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Duplication
A process for manufacturing CDs, DVDs, or Blue Ray Discs with a laser that burns data onto the disc, much like on your home computer. Duplication is the most affordable process when making small quantities (under 300 units) because of a simpler setup. While sometimes considered a lower quality process than replication (a process used for high quantities and most retail releases), the discernable differences are slight. Sound quality differences are questionable. Visual differences include lower quality disc-face printing and a more clearly visible line on the belly of the disc showing where the burned information ends and remaining blank space begins.
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Duplicator
A person or company that manufactures CDs, DVDs, or Blue Ray Discs through duplication. Because duplication equipment is affordable, small companies and individuals can easily duplicate.
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eMechanical
Harry Fox Agency's licensing tool for industry professionals.
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Fair Use
An exception in the copyright law that allows small portions of a work to be used without permission for nonprofit, news, educational, or parody purposes. To fall under fair use, only a small portion of the work may be used and the use must not affect the value or marketability of the work.
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Format
The medium for delivery of music. Common formats include Streams, Digital Downloads, CDs, Records, and Cassette Tapes.
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Harry Fox Agency
An agency established in 1927 by the National Music Publisher's Association to act as an information source, clearinghouse and monitoring service for licensing musical copyrights. They now primarily offer mechanical licensing services to the industry and to individuals at songfile.com. Also known as HFA.
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Length of Song
The length of your recording of a song in minutes and seconds is required information under the compulsory mechanical licensing provisions. Songs over five minutes cost a little higher royalty. Check the statutory rate to learn why.
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License
A formal agreement between the music owner and you that says it's okay for you to use their music.
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License Request
A request for permission to use music that someone else owns.
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Limited Download
A digital file that is delivered electronically to a computer to reside there for a limited period of time. There are two types of limited downloads: limited-time download (i.e. the song resides on the computer for 30 days) and limited-use download (i.e. the song is can be heard 10 times before it can no longer be played). Also known as Tethered Downloads.
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Manufacturing
The process of making physical copies of music, such as the production of CDs or vinyl records.
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Master License
Permission to re-record a recording that someone else made. Master licenses are custom-negotiated and require a Custom License. To get a Master license, you need to contact the copyright holder directly. This is typically the artist that made the recording or their record label.
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Monthly Statement of Account
The second step of the compulsory mechanical licensing procedures, this report provides to copyright holders the monthly distribution details of a work licensed under compulsory law. The notice includes information about the distribution of a project including actual quantities distributed for the month. It is accompanied by a royalty payment covering the statutory rate for each unit distributed. It is due by the twentieth of the following month for each month when distribution occurs.
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MP3
A digital sound recording format that has been a major medium for delivery of music through retail channels since the nineties.
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MP3 Download
See 'Digital Download'.
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Notice of Intention
The first step of the compulsory mechanical licensing procedures, this notice informs copyright holders of the licensee's intention to use a copyrighted work in a mechanical reproduction (a new recording of a song that someone else wrote). The notice includes information about the project and about the song. It is due after manufacturing and before distribution.
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On Demand Stream
See 'Stream'.
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PDD
Abbreviation for Permanent Digital Download. See 'Digital Download'.
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Permanent Digital Download
See 'Digital Download'.
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PPD
Abbreviation for Permanent Phonorecord Delivery. See 'Digital Download'.
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PPR
Abbreviation for Public Performance Rights. See 'Public Performance Rights'.
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Print License
Permission to print the sheet music, notes, or lyrics of a song that someone else wrote. To get a Print License, you need to contact the copyright holder directly. This is typically the composer or their publisher.
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Public Domain
Any song written before 1923 is said to be in the 'Public Domain' meaning no individual can claim copyright and licensing is not required for any use. Public Domain status for sound recordings is handled differently from songs (compositions). Currently no sound recordings are in the Public Domain in the United States. Often publishers copyright their new arrangements of Public Domain works. If you use a copyrighted sheet music arrangement, you do need permission. Often this is the case with choral arrangements of traditional classical works, so if you use sheet music, check the bottom of the first page with music notes for copyright information.
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Public Performance License
See 'Public Performance Rights'.
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Public Performance Rights
Permission to play in public a song that someone else wrote (live or recorded). All Public Performance Rights are handled by three Public Performance Rights agencies: ASCAP.com, BMI.com, or SESAC.com. How much you pay for Public Performance Rights is based on a number of variables, and is determined by these agencies. Royalties go to the composer or their publisher. Also known as a Public Performance License, and also abbreviated as PPR.
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Public Performance Rights Agency
All Public Performance Rights are handled by three Public Performance Rights agencies: ASCAP.com, BMI.com, or SESAC.com. How much you pay for Public Performance Rights is based on a number of variables, and is determined by these agencies.
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Publisher
Publishers help composers give permission and collect payments when they share their compositions with others through Print Licensing, Mechanical Licensing, and Synchronization Licensing. They also help promote and distribute the songs.
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Record
A flat-vinyl-disc-with-inscribed-grooves sound recording format that was the standard medium for delivery of music through retail channels during most of the 20th century.
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Record Label
Record Labels help musicians give permission and collect payments when they share their recordings with others through Master Licensing. They also produce, sell, promote, and distribute the recordings.
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Replication
A process for manufacturing CDs, DVDs, or Blue Ray Discs with a glass master that presses a data impression onto the disc. Despite expensive setup costs, replication is the most affordable process when making large quantities (over 300 units) because once setup is completed, the manufacturing process is highly automated. Replication is usually considered the highest quality manufacturing process, better than duplication (a process used for low quantities that can be done on a home computer). However, the discernable differences are slight. Sound quality differences are questionable. Visual differences include higher quality disc-face printing and a less noticable line on the belly of the disc where the burned information ends and remaining blank space begins.
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Replicator
A person or company that manufactures CDs, DVDs, or Blue Ray Discs through replication. Because replication equipment is expensive, replicators are typically large companies. If a smaller company claims to replicate, it is possible they outsource the work to a larger firm.
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Royalty
A payment that goes to the copyright holder in exchange for permission to use their music.
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Royalty Rate
The amount of money paid to the copyright holder for royalties. Compulsory mechanical royalty rates (Statutory Rates) are established by a federal committee and accepted industry-wide. Royalty rates for Custom License Agreements vary widely depending on the negotiations and the use.
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Sheet Music
The printed notes and lyrics that instruct a musician how to play a song. To legally copy the notes or lyrics, or to create a new arrangement, you need a Print License.
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Songfile.com
Our competitor Harry Fox Agency's public mechanical licensing service.
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Split Ownership
When copyright ownership rights are split among multiple owners. Often several owners will share rights to a single song.
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Statutory Rate
This is the federally mandated amount that composers are paid whenever a CD with their song is distributed. This rate is determined by a national committee. Compulsory mechanical law mandates that copyright holders issue a license at this rate. For this reason it stands as the norm rate for the industry for mechanical licenses.
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Stream
An audio file being played in real time over the web for the purpose of a one-time listen. On demand streaming is the term given to streams that have been prepared and are available for users who wish to play a specific song at a specific time. Think of streams like radio plays. A regular stream would be the station playing a song whenever they want to. An on demand stream is like a request you call in to be played immediately when you want it.
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Synchronization License
Permission to record a song that someone else wrote and put it to video. To get a Synchronization License, you need to contact the copyright holder directly. This is typically the composer or their publisher.
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Tethered Download
See 'Limited Download'
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Theatrical License
Permission to perform a theatrical production of a song that someone else wrote. To get a Print License, you need to contact the copyright holder directly. This is typically the publisher or an agency.
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Title
The name of a song, found at the top center of the title page and used to identify a copyrighted work.
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Title Page
The first page of sheet music with actual music notes on it. This is where you can find information about who owns the copyright to the song. The title is centered at the top, with the composers and arrangers below that at the top right of the music. The publisher is listed at the bottom center of the page.
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Vinyl
See 'Record'.
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