What does a standard mechanical license permit, and what are its terms?

A standard mechanical license is limited to the Section 115 compulsory license terms and solely permits a song that has been previously distributed to be re-recorded and sold or otherwise distributed as a new audio-only recording to individuals for private use in the United States (including sales by internet retailers such as iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.com through ReverbNation’s digital distribution service).  The new recording may be a new arrangement of the song, but it cannot change the basic melody or fundamental character of the song.  The basic license fee for a compulsory mechanical license is 9.1 cents per copy (for songs up to five minutes in duration, and prorated thereafter).  Where a private version of the compulsory license is available (for example through The Harry Fox Agency at www.harryfox.com), the license fee is typically paid in advance by “pre-purchasing” a certain number of copies.  You are responsible for monitoring the number of downloads you distribute through ReverbNation, paying the mechanical license fees, and otherwise complying with the mechanical license terms.  If you use a service such as The Harry Fox Agency, you are responsible for pre-purchasing a sufficient number of copies and renewing your mechanical licenses before they expire (Harry Fox digital download licenses generally expire after 1 year) and/or if the number of downloads will exceed the number you originally pre-purchased.

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