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Black Box Royalties Myths, Common Misconceptions Debunked at Music Biz 2018

While many are up in arms about the U.S. Copyright office allowing digital services to bulk file notices of intent (NOIs) that allow them to play music but not pay for it if they can’t find the music publishers owners and license the music directly, Harry Fox Agency and Music Report Inc. executives say the issue isn’t a big a financial problem as critics of the system make it out to be.

On Tuesday (May 15) at the Music Biz conference in Nashville — which runs through Thursday — they told an audience that while millions of NOIs now can and are electronically filed, any songs with a lot of plays gets claimed and paid out fairly quickly.

“NOIs is not about trying to avoid making payments,” Music Reports VP and general counsel Bill Colitre said during the panel on black boxes — unclaimed royalty payments where the rightful owners are not known. “Its extremely expensive and time consuming to file those NOIs; its easier to pay the royalties if you know who gets it.”

The other apparent myth that the process’ critics try to spread is that services use NOIs as a mechanism to avoid paying for music they are playing where they can’t figure out the owners. 

“All the services that I deal with will pay those royalties when the songs are claimed,” said Harry Fox Agency senior VP of client services John Raso

So what if a songwriter hasn’t filed a song with the copyright office until July 2017, two years after a service has been playing that song? 

Raso said, “I don’t know of any client who will take the stance that they only owe for plays made since July 2017.”

Colitre agreed, the correct policy is to pay retroactively when the song is claimed. “Its the fair thing to do.”

“When those on

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