Introducing, The American Society for Collective Rights Licensing (ASCRL) — The Organization That Wants To Help Visual Artists Collect Their Unclaimed ‘Black Box” Royalties
As many of you know, I’ve researched and have written extensively about unclaimed music royalties held in escrow or so-called “black boxes,” which are monies owed to music creators and rights-holders (and founded RoyaltyClaim to address this issue). Today, I want to draw your attention to a similar matter in the world of visual art (e.g. photography, illustration, stills, text design).
This morning I had the pleasure of speaking with Eugene Mopsik, the CEO of the American Society of Collective Rights Licensing (ASCRL). A successful corporate /industrial photographer with over 32 years of experience, Eugene was previously the Executive Director of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP).
Eugene and I talked about issues related to the representation and rights of visual artists and the monetization of their works outside of the United States. He and his co-founders of ASCRL are working to help visual artists claim their fair share of royalties that have long gone to the publishers of visual works.
Similar to musical works (aka compositions or songs) that earn mechanical royalties when the work is reproduced, visual works, in many cases, earn reprographic royalties. Whereas mechanical royalties outside of the U.S. are collected by mechanical rights organizations (MROs) in territories under the MRO’s jurisdiction, reprographic royalties are collected by reprographic rights organizations (RROs) in territories under the RRO’s jurisdication. And, much like the complex web of legal and regulatory issues that makes it challenging for songwriters to collect their ex-U.S. mechanical royalties, similar limitations make it challenging for visual artists to collect their ex-U.S. reprographic royalties.
Antitrust laws has made it difficult to form a collective licensing body. Consequently, the U.S. does not have a local RRO to enter into reciprocal agreements with foreign RROs for the purpose of passing through ex-U.S. reprographic royalties to be paid to U.S. visual artists. Once again, this is similar to the absence of a U.S. MRO for songwriters. Notably, however, the U.S. has made an exception for the collective licensing of performance rights in musical works.
Since 1914, songwriters and composers have been able to join a performance rights organization (PRO) for the collective licensing of performance rights and payment of performance royalties. In the United States, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), SESAC, and Global Music Rights (GMR) are PROs that represent the performance rights of songwriters and publishers.
Currently, when reprographic royalties are earned outside of the United States, they are collected by RROs. RROs then distributes royalties to the publishers of visual works and authors of visual works (visual artists) who’ve joined the RRO. The RRO passes reprographic royalties for works due to members of foreign RROs to the RRO in the respective territory. In cases where the publishers or authors of works are unknown or if the author is an unrepresented U.S. visual artist, royalties are held in escrow and eventually distributed by market share to publishers. In the latter, royalties that are fairly owed to U.S. visual artists are being distributed to publishers. This is what the American Society of Collective Rights Licensing aims to address.
Joining ASCRL is free. Members can submit their works and use the ASCRL claiming portal to claim their entitlements and unlock unclaimed royalties. To learn more about ASCRL or to begin the process of joining, visit http://www.ascrl.org.
As of this writing, there are currently 116,133 verifiable* payments owed to music creators and rights-holders that are sitting in unclaimed/undistributed royalties escrow accounts (referred to as “Black Box” funds**) in the United States.
The actual number of individual payments owed is likely closer to or exceeds 1 Million, however the actual number is unknown because the administrator(s) of some of the biggest Black Box funds have not made public their list of payees to whom they owe royalties.
Unfortunately, due to the statute of limitations on these funds many of these payments expire. Every month payees unknowingly forfeit their rights to these payments and the interest in the royalties revert back to the administrator. This happens because the payee does not contact the administrator of the fund to claim their royalties. Granted, most payees are unaware that these payments are waiting for them because the administrator is unable to reach the payee for various reasons.
It has been estimated that the global “Black Box” royalties could be in the billions of dollars owed to music creators and rights-holders.
Imagine working somewhere and then you do not receive a paycheck because the HR department does not have your new address. Not a perfect analogy, but not receiving monies that you’ve earned as a result of your hard work seems unfair.
THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM
So, I am happy to announce that I am working on a side project called Royalty Claim. Royalty Claim will attempt to work with as many of these administrators to aggregate their databases of millions of records of unclaimed/undistributed royalties and make that information available to the public. There are other services and insight that we will offer through Royalty Claim to help educate music creators and rights-holders on Black Box funds and how to limit/prevent their earnings from falling victim to the broken global music licensing ecosystem (such as taking control of your music catalog with TuneRegistry).
Also, follow @RoyaltyClaim on Twitter.
* These 116,133 payments are specifically verifiable because the list of payee names can be gathered from several databases.
** I am currently aware of over 30 funds and sub funds being managed in the United States. However, there are definitely many more that are “private”.
10/25 – Music Business Association presents “Demystifying Black Box Royalties – Practical Solutions For Unlocking Your Royalties” webinar by Dae Bogan Music (Members to receive details via email from MBA)
10/28 – “DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label & Publisher” Ebook Launch Webinar presented by TuneRegistry and CreativeFuture(Follow TuneRegistry on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for more details)
Royalty Claim attended the Music Industry Research Association‘s first inaugural MIRA Conference at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center this week. Royalty Claim’s Founder and Chief Researcher, Dae Bogan, MIA, had the honor of presenting a preview of our in-progress The State of Unclaimed Royalties and Music Licenses in the United States report before an audience of economists, sociologists, and researchers from universities and institutions from around the world, as well as music industry executives representing firms such as Nielsen, Pandora, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Entertainment.
For the first time, updated statistics regarding the filing of “address unknown” Section 115 NOIs on the US Copyright Office during the first half of 2017 was revealed. Insights included an overview of the organizations that have utilized the procedure, including Amazon, Google, Spotify, iHeart Communications, and Microsoft. However, those large music users were expected. Interesting inclusions to the list were The Recording Academy and the Christian music service, TheOverflow and interesting omissions from the list are platforms that boast millions of tracks — Apple and Tidal — but may not be reaching every independent rightsowner that may have compositions available on those platforms.
The presentation also discussed the nature and causes of so-called “Black Box royalties”. A black box is an escrow fund in which music royalties are held due to an organization’s inability to attribute the royalties earned to the appropriate payee. Examples were given, including unattributed advances from DSPs to music companies, the US’s limitations on sound recording rights, and other issues.
The presentation concluded with a video demo of the Royalty Claim Platform, which received positive reviews from conference attendees. The full presentation is here.
If you’re interested in having me at your upcoming music industry event or school, feel free to contact me here. I currently focus on music rights & royalties, metadata & data pipelines, DIY musicians, publishing & licensing, technology & innovation, entrepreneurship & startups in the music industry.
Upcoming Speaking Engagements:
- 10/03/18 – Panelist – “The Future of Data” at A3C Conference (October 3-5) at Loudermilk Conference Center in Atlanta, GA (Details).
- 10/05/18 – Panelist – “DIY Tools And Financing For Artists” at RightsTech Summit at New York Media Festival (October 4-5) at The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, NY.
Past Speaking Engagements:
- 06/20/18 – Panelist – “Future of Rights Technology” at A2IM Indie Week (June 18-21) at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center in New York, NY.
- 05/14/18 – Moderator – “Shining A Light On The Black Box: Best Practices For Reducing Unclaimed Royalties” at Music Biz 2018 (May 14-17) at Omni Hotel Nashville in Nashville, TN.
- 5/09/18 – Panelist – “New Industry. New Rules: The Songwriter’s Guide to Earning a Living in the Digital Age” at ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo (May 7-9) at Lowes Hotel in Hollywood, CA.
- 5/07/18 – Panelist – “Revolutionizing Rights Management for Artists” at ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo (May 7-9) at Lowes Hotel in Hollywood, CA.
- 04/06/18 – Presenter – Music Royalties & Data Workshop for MS, Business Analytics at USC Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles, CA.
- 04/05/18 – Panelist – “Tracking Your Music in the Digital Age” at Society of Composers and Lyricists event at American Film Institute in Los Angeles, CA.
- 03/15/18 – Panelist – “How Tech Can Save the Music Industry” at SXSW (March 9-18) in Austin, TX.
- 03/07/18 – Panelist – “Monetizing Your Music” at Alliance for Women Film Composers event at ASCAP in Los Angeles, CA.
- 01/17/18 – Panelist – “Match Game: The Problem of Matching Music Recordings to Compositions” at Copyright & Technology Conference 2018 — Fordham University School of Law, Lincoln Center Campus in New York, NY.
- 11/18/17 – Instructor – “Music Industry Entrepreneurship Masterclass Tour 2017” at SAE Institute in Los Angeles, CA.
- 10/28/17 – Presenter – Music Business Virtual Talk with Albright University.
- 10/26/17 – Presenter – “Demystifying Black Box Royalties – Practical Solutions For Unlocking Your Royalties” Webinar hosted by Music Business Association
- 10/25/17 – Guest – “Waldman’s World” Music Biz Radio Show on idobi Radio.
- 10/24/17 – Guest – “The Facts Machine” Radio Show on Accelerated Radio in Inglewood, CA.
- 10/24/17 – Panelist – “Bang Your Head! Helping Musicians To Recover Unpaid Royalties” at Los Angeles County Bar Association – Entertainment Law And Intellectual Property Section CLE Event in Los Angeles, CA.
- 10/17/17 – Panelist – “The Business of Data” at SF MusicTech Summit — Habuki Hotel in San Francisco, CA.
- 09/27/17 – Panelist – “View From The Top: The Future Of Machine-To-Machine Rights Management” at RightsTech Summit at New York Media Festival — The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, NY.
- 08/11/17 – Presenter – “The State of Unclaimed Royalties and Music Licenses in the United States” at Music Industry Research Association Conference at UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)
- 06/08-10/17 – Panelist – “Digital Rebellion Pt. 2: Navigating the World of Music Streaming” at Urban Network Digital & Music Industry Quarterly Magazine (MIQ) Business of Music Conference. (Woodland Hills, CA)
- 05/13/15 – Mentor – Game Changers Youth Empowerment Summit. (Hollywood, CA)
- 04/04-05/17 – Panelist – “Musicology: How Emerging Artists Use Data and Analytics to Grow and Monetize Their Fanbases” at XLIVE Event Data & Analytics Summit. (Beverly Hills, CA).
- 03/27/17 – Moderator – “Building Your Brand in this digital age Panel + Interactive Workshop” at ArtistMAX. (Hollywood, CA)
- 03/15/17 – Moderator – “Rights & Metadata in Evolving Digital Music Space” at SXSW Music. (Austin, TX)
- 03/17/17 – Mentor -SXSW Music Conference 2017. (Austin, TX)
- 01/13/17 – Panelist – “Music and Technology” Panel at Independent Music Industry Conference. (Los Angeles, CA).
- 01/09/17 – Keynote – Los Angeles Songwriters Collective at TeaPop. (North Hollywood, CA).
- 11/19-21/16 – Panelist – “Content Marketing: Why Festivals Have A Leg Up” at FestForums. (Santa Barbara, CA)
- 11/16/16 – Instructor – “Pride Music: A Music Business Workshop for LGBTQ Music Creators” at Brotherhood Impact Fund. (West Hollywood, CA)
- 11/09/16 – Host & Moderator – “TuneRegistry’s Music Business for Producers & Engineers” at SAE Institute. (Hollywood, CA)
- 10/20/16 – Moderator – “Infrastructure: Building New Pipes, New Rights, and New Micropayment Systems” at Music 2020 Day at Digital Hollywood. (Los Angeles, CA)
- 10/17-18/16 – Speaker – “Rights & Money for Film and TV Composers Roundtable at Production Music Conference. (Santa Monica, CA)
- 09/29/16 – Exhibitor (TuneRegistry) – Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) and the California Copyright Conference’s (CCC) Music Industry Toolbox. (Los Angeles, CA)
- 08/24/16 – Presenter – “How To Protect And Market Your Talent” at Artist Launch’s Virtual Music Business Summit.
- 08/13/16 – Moderator – “Music Metadata Matters: How Metadata Impacts Your Income & Opportunities” panel at Indie Entertainment Summit. (North Hollywood, CA)
- 07/07/16 – Moderator – “The Significance of Rights & Metadata in the Evolving Digital Music Ecosystem” panel at UCLA Summer Music Innovation Institute. (Los Angeles, CA)
- 06/21/16 – Moderator – “A Chat With Millennial Music Tech Founders” panel at UCLA Summer Music Innovation Institute (Los Angeles, CA).
- 03/11-20/16 – Mentor – South By Southwest (SXSW) 2016 (Austin, TX).
- 12/13-15/15 – Moderator – “What’s Trending? The Latest in Festival Technology” panel at International Music Festival Conference 2015 (San Diego, CA).
- 11/10/15 – Press – SF MusicTech Summit 2015 (San Francisco, CA ).
- 08/08/15 – Moderator – “Independent Artists & Tech Startups: Getting In On The Ground Floor Of The Next Big Music Platform” panel at Indie Entertainment Summit 2015 (North Hollywood, CA).
- 07/19-22/15 – Mentor – SXSW V2V 2015 (Las Vegas, NV)
- 05/07/15 – Panelist – “Global Business of Music” panel at BMI presents Gamechangers Music Seminar II (Beverly Hills, CA)
- 04/25/15 – Mentor – Game Changers: An Urban Movement at Private Location (North Hollywood, CA)
- 04/08/15 – Panelist – “Rise To Fame: Inside the Bruins Studio” panel at UCLA Career Center (Los Angeles, CA)
- 03/19/15 – Mentor – SXSW Music Conference 2015 (Austin, TX)
- 02/11/15 – Moderator- “Online Video & Music-Related Content: Promotion and Monetization Strategies” panel at Digital Entertainment World 2015 (Los Angeles, CA)
- 01/28/15 – Mentor – UCLA Alumni Association’s Entertainment Networking Night 2015 (Los Angeles, CA)
- 01/17/15 – Panelist – “Making The Most Out Of Your Music Projects 2015″ panel at thecoolschool (North Hollywood)
- 11/11/14 – Press – SF MusicTech Summit 2014 (San Francisco, CA ).
- 10/25/14 – Instructor – “Music Publishing & Copyright Administration in the Internet Age” workshop at the Independent Music Conference 2015 (Hollywood, CA)
- 08/22/14 – Moderator – “Social Media In A Changing Music Industry” panel at SAE Institute’s 3rd Annual Tech Expo (Hollywood, CA)
- 08/09/14 – Moderator – “Video Distribution & Monetization” panel at Indie Entertainment Summit 2014 (North Hollywood, CA)
- 07/10/14 – Moderator – “Indie Music Matters: Making Moves With Music Videos” panel at The Los Angeles Film School (Hollywood, CA)
- 04/26/14 – Panelist – “Careers In The Entertainment Industry” panel at Entertainment Industry Career Marketplace 2015 (Studio City, CA)
- 03/27/14 – Moderator – ASCAP’s “Finding Alternative Financial Revenues For Your Music” at SAE Institute (Hollywood, CA)
- 01/29/14 – Mentor – UCLA Alumni Association’s Entertainment Networking Night 2014 (Los Angeles, CA)
- 10/21/13 – Instructor – “Music Licensing for the DIY Indie Artist” workshop at Independent Music Conference 2013 (Hollywood, CA)
- 10/19/13 – Instructor – “Music Copyrights & Publishing” workshop at Independent Music Conference at SAE Institute (Hollywood, CA)
- 09/28/13 – Panelist – “Indie Music Business” at The 4th Annual Western Awareness Conference (Los Angeles, CA)
- 09/14/13 – Moderator – “Networking & Building Your Brand with The Midi Mafia” panel at iStandard Producer’s Beat Camp Los Angeles 2013 (Hollywood, CA)
- 09/14/13 – Panelist – “Social Media 101” panel at iStandard Producer’s Beat Camp Los Angeles 2013 (Hollywood, CA)
- 08/17/13 – Panelist – “Music, Social Media And How To Use It Effectively” panel at SAE Institute’s 2nd Annual Music Tech Expo (Hollywood, CA)
- 08/08/13 – Guest Lecturer– “Copyrights & Publishing Basics” lecture at Entertainment Business Class at The Los Angeles Recording School (Hollywood, CA)
- 08/08/13 – Panelist – “Opportunities for Rock in Today’s Market” panel at Indie Entertainment Summit 2013(North Hollywood, CA)
- 08/07/13 – Guest Lecturer– “Music Business for Music Producers” lecture at Entertainment Business Class at The Los Angeles Recording School (Hollywood, CA)
- 09/24/12 – Guest Speaker – Third Quarter Impact Record Pool Music Conference 2012 (Los Angeles, CA)
- 02/18/12 – Panelist – “Music Marketing & Artist Promotions” panel at Industry Connects Music Seminar & Workshops (Los Angeles, CA)
- 05/26/11 – Panelist – PenUp’s “Songwriter Networking Event” at Musician’s Institute (Hollywood, CA)
- 04/21/11 – Mentor – UCLA Alumni Association’s Entertainment Networking Night 2011 (Los Angeles, CA)
- 11/11/10 – Executive Producer – Reebok’s “Rip The Mic Music Conference” (Burbank, CA)