The Music Modernization Act & All Its Acronyms!

Most of you have at least heard about the Music Modernization Act, but with all the acronyms (e.g., MLC, DLC, etc.), I figured a little clarification as to what those mean might be helpful! For your reading pleasure, see below!

Refresher – Title I of the Music Modernization Act is “The Music Licensing Modernization Act”. This Act establishes a blanket license for interactive streaming services. It also establishes a mechanical licensing collective (“MLC” – today’s 1st acronym!) and a digital licensee coordinator (or “DLC” – today’s 2nd acronym!)

“MLC” – This is the nonprofit entity that has been tasked with administering the new blanket licensing system (by 1/1/2021). They will receive notices and reports from the digital music providers, identify works and owners, and then collect and distribute royalties accordingly. Additionally, they will create and maintain a database regarding such works, which will include information on the works, ownership shares, and if known, identity and location of the copyright owners in these works (as well as the sound recordings accompanying the works). Best of all – the database will be publicly available!

***Something to keep in mind – If the MLC cannot match a work to its copyright owner it may distribute royalties based on the market share of copyright owners reflected in the reports provided by the digital music services. In case you needed another reason to ensure your works are properly and accurately registered, here it is!

“DLC” – The digital licensee coordinator is also a nonprofit entity, but they are tasked with coordinating the activities of the licensees. A member of the DLC also serves as a non-voting member on the board of the MLC.
“MLCI (aka Mechanical Licensing Collective, Inc.)” – This is the entity designated by the Copyright Office to serve as the MLC.

“DLCI (aka Digital Licensee Coordinator, Inc.)” – This is the entity designated by the Copyright Office to serve as the DLC.

Under the MMA, Copyright owners will be able to claim ownership of previously unmatched musical works, once the MLC creates the process to do so. The MLC database will then be updated. Stay tuned for more information from the Copyright Office on claiming ownership in works!

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Michelle is a Partner at Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP and is licensed in Illinois and Indiana state and federal courts. With a Masters of Law in Intellectual Property, Michelle is the Vice Chair of the firm’s Entertainment and Media Practice Group and a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation and Transactional Services Practice Group. Her copyright and trademark practice focuses on intellectual property prosecution and related transactions, including performing trademark availability searches and providing advisory opinions, as well as preparing and filing trademark applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and copyright registrations with the United States Copyright Office. Michelle also assists with the oversight of the firm’s extensive trademark docket and conducts required monitoring and maintenance of clients’ trademark portfolios, as well as provides clients with corporate counseling and innovative corporate solutions to address their respective needs.

Michelle further provides comprehensive representation in the drafting, negotiating and executing of various entertainment-related contracts and licenses, including but not limited to band member agreements, artist management agreements, session player agreements, performance agreements, sound engineer agreements, recording and personal services agreements, publishing agreements and licensing agreements. As a former artist manager, she has implemented many facets of national and regional tours, assembled benefit and charity concerts, communicated with various industry personnel, facilitated radio and internet publicity campaigns, arranged radio, print and internet interviews, and assisted in the development of press kits and websites promoting local talent. Michelle has also guest lectured on entertainment and intellectual property-related topics at The John Marshall Law School, DePaul University College of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law and Azusa Pacific University (CA), as well as served as a panelist on various other entertainment-related continuing legal education courses. Michelle is an author and editor of the Litigation and Industry Updates Column of the ABA’s Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Journal and has also had numerous articles published by the Chicago Music Guide.

In addition, Michelle serves as Chair of Swanson Martin & Bell, LLP’s Community Service/Pro Bono Committee and proudly volunteers her time as President of the Associate Board and as a pro bono attorney to Lawyers for the Creative Arts, a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to eligible clients in all areas of the arts. She also currently serves as Events Chair for the Chicago Chapter of Women in Music, a non-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering equality in the music industry through the support and advancement of women. She recently served as Chair of the Young Lawyers Division for the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel, where she was recognized as the Rising Star recipient and received a Meritorious Service Award and President’s Commendation.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in these articles constitutes general information and guidance and shall not be construed as legal advice applicable to or provided for any particular person or entity, and shall not be deemed to create an attorney-client relationship between Ms. Wahl and anyone who elects to read and/or rely, to any extent, on the material provided herein. In that respect, Ms. Wahl hereby expressly and specifically disclaims any such legal relationship, but encourages any person or entity seeking a legal advocate pertaining to the issues addressed and discussed herein to contact her directly for further information. Ms. Wahl may be reached at Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP (330 N. Wabash, Suite 3300, Chicago, IL 60611 or via telephone at her direct line: (312) 222-8585 or e-mail at: