Circular 75

The Licensing Division of the Copyright Office

Table of Contents

Basic Function

The Licensing Division in the Copyright Office administers the compulsory and statutory licenses in the Copyright Act (title 17 of the United States Code). These are:

The Division collects royalty fees from cable operators for retransmitting television and radio broadcasts (section 111), from satellite carriers for retransmitting “superstation” and network signals (section 119), and from importers or manufacturers for distributing digital audio recording products (section 1003). The Division deducts its full operating costs from the royalty fees and invests the balance in interest-bearing securities with the U.S. Treasury for later distribution to copyright owners by Copyright Royalty Judges.

A “Notice of Intention to Obtain a Compulsory License for Making and Distributing Phonorecords” (section 115) is recorded by the Division when the licensee cannot identify the copyright owner through a search of Copyright Office records. The Licensing Division also records voluntary license agreements between copyright owners of sound recordings and digital subscription services, or eligible digital nonsubscription services (section 114); copyright owners of sound recordings and those entities making ephemeral recordings (section 112); copyright owners of nondramatic musical works and those intending to digitally distribute phonorecords (section 115); copyright owners and public broadcasting entities (section 118); and copyright owners of broadcast programming and satellite carriers and⁄or distributors (section 119). Royalty payments are not made to the Copyright Office under any of these licenses.

Under section 122, a royalty-free statutory license authorizes the retransmission of local broadcast television stations by satellite carriers.

The statutory obligation in chapter 10, section 1003, provides for persons who import or manufacture and distribute in the U.S. any digital audio recording device or digital audio recording medium to file notices of distribution and quarterly and annual statements of account and to make royalty payments.

How to Contact the Licensing Division

The Licensing Division is located in the Library of Congress James Madison Memorial Building. This building is located on Independence Avenue between First and Second Streets SE, on Capitol Hill. All mail to the Division should be addressed to:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office-LD
Licensing Division
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20557-6400

tel: (202) 707-8150
fax: (202) 707-0905

Licensing Division staff members are available to answer questions between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm, eastern time, Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.

Funding of the Licensing Division

The Copyright Act provides that reasonable costs incurred by the Copyright Office in administering the statutory licenses for cable systems and satellite carriers, and the obligation for digital audio equipment be deducted from the royalty fees deposited for those licenses. The Licensing Division budget comes directly from the royalties, making it self-supporting with no tax dollars used for its operation.

Organization of the Division

The Examining Section examines all licensing documents submitted for a statutory or compulsory license to determine that they meet the requirements under the statute and Copyright Office regulations, including the correct computation of the royalty fee. A Licensing Examiner will notify a licensee to correct errors or omissions on the document before final processing by the Copyright Office.

The Fiscal Section performs all accounting, budgeting, and investing functions of the Division in conjunction with the accounting offices of the Library of Congress and the U. S. Treasury. This Section is also responsible for the ascertainment of funds available for distribution by Copyright Royalty Judges.

The Licensing Information Section provides information about the compulsory and statutory licenses; maintains all the Division’s official licensing records; and performs reference searches of licensing documents for the public and Members of Congress.

Documents Available

Cable TV

Satellite Carrier

Mechanical Licenses

Public Broadcasting Agreements

Sound Recordings

Audio Home Recording Act

Note: Access to statements of account for digital audio recording products will only be granted to “interested copyright owners” pursuant to section 1003(c)(2) of title 17 of the United States Code.

How to Search the Files

Licensing documents are available for public inspection and copying at the Library of Congress, James Madison Memorial Building, Copyright Office Public Reading Room, lm‑404, between the hours of 8:30 am and 5:00 pm, eastern time, Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. If you wish to conduct your own search, you will be given assistance in search procedures to locate the records needed.

Upon request, the Licensing Division staff will conduct a search at the statutory rate for each hour or fraction of an hour consumed. Based on the information furnished, we will provide an estimate of the total search fee. If you decide to have the Office staff perform the search, send the estimated amount with your request. The Division will then proceed with the search and provide a report.

Rate Setting and Distribution Proceedings

The Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act of 2004 (2004 Act), Public Law 108-419, which became effective May 31, 2005, modified the system for adjusting the rates and terms for the statutory licenses and the mechanism for determining the distribution of royalty fees collected by the Licensing Division. The 2004 Act replaces the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panels (CARPs), which were administered by the Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office, with three Copyright Royalty Judges (CRJs). The three CRJs and their staff comprise the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), which is located in the Library of Congress. The CRJs are responsible for adjusting the rates and terms for use of the statutory licenses (with the exception of the satellite carrier statutory license) as well as determining the distribution of royalties collected by the Copyright Office under sections 111, 119, and chapter 10 of the Copyright Act.

For further information about rate setting and distribution proceedings, write to:

Copyright Royalty Board
PO Box 70977
Washington, DC 20024

tel: (202) 707-7658
fax: (202) 252-3423

Circular 75, Revised April 2007

Format Note:

This electronic version has been altered slightly from the original printed text for website presentation.  For a copy of the original circular, consult the PDF version or write to Copyright Office, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC  20559-6000.