MCPS license for non-copyrighted music
January 22, 2007 4:51 PM   Subscribe

Do I need an MCPS license to make a CD of public domain music performed by myself?

I'm informed by a CD replication company that I will need to purchase a licence from the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (UK) for some demo CDs I want to bulk produce. All the musical content is in the public domain and is performed by my string quartet, and the CDs will be distributed free to potential clients of the quartet. Thus, no one stands to gain or lose any royalties from the production of the CD, apart from the quartet itself, of which I am technically the sole proprietor.

I can't find anything on the MCPS site that describes the type of CD we're producing -- the closest seems to be "Premium Products" but nowhere is non-copyrighted music mentioned. Do we really need to pay money to this organisation?
posted by cbrody to Law & Government (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No. Good luck convincing the CD replicator of that, though. (They probably would like to be able to say, when the music industry thugs come calling, that 100% of their clients have purchased the MCPS license.)
posted by jellicle at 5:27 PM on January 22, 2007

I would suggest (not snarkily, seriously) that you find a different replication company if at all possible. If they're not listening to logic here, that's a bad sign on a few levels.

Reminds me of my student-composer days when I actually did some research & realized it would be cheaper to buy a binding machine than to keep using Kinko's -- and I was only moved to do this research after several fights with Kinko's for the right to reproduce & bind my own scores, notated by me in music notation software (because to the employees they looked "printed"). If they hadn't been so insistent on sticking to their rules in the face of logic (huh, photo ID of customer matches only name on score... nope, she still must be stealing... somehow), that branch wouldn't have inspired me to look elsewhere.
posted by allterrainbrain at 6:15 PM on January 22, 2007

Best answer: Seconding jellicle. Strictly speaking, you don't need an MCPS licence for duplication work but most (and certainly all of the larger) duplication houses will demand to see one before they begin any job.

Three options to consider:
1) Find a smaller, less picky duplicator. It won't be easy and you'll get some suspicious responses when your first question is "Hi! Do you duplicate works without an MCPS licence?" but some, particularly the smaller guys, will do so. I'm sure we've used a company in Liverpool before who didn't seem bothered about a license (we did have one) - if I can remember who they are, I'll email.
2) Take the dupe job abroad - most duplication houses in Eastern Europe won't have a problem with the job. Ever been to a record fair and marvelled at the high-quality bootlegs on sale? Yeah.
3) Talk to the MCPS. I've actually found them to be very helpful on almost every occasion I've spoken to them. They do have some leeway when it comes to valuing licenses so you may be able to pay a nominal fee to cover the admin costs. Worth a try. From memory, promo pricing is actually pretty reasonable - something in the region of 5-10p per CD, I think - so you may be better off just going legit.
posted by blag at 7:10 AM on January 23, 2007

I don't mean to diss blag here, but ... OP is already "legit"; don't *encourage* them. :-}
posted by baylink at 9:05 PM on January 23, 2007

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