There was a discussion a while back about mechanical music copyright
issues. I have had recent communications with the Harry Fox Agency
which lead me to believe the current law is a bit different from what
has been stated in the past.
Apparently (I'm no lawyer), sometime during the last decade, Congress
decided (by law/statute(?)) that licensing of music for piano rolls,
music boxes, and ringtones no longer falls under the Compulsory
Mechanical Music License provisions of the U.S. Copyright Law.
(Interesting, as may have been noted earlier, that the "mechanical"
derives from the original impetus for the law, coming from player piano
What this means, Harry Fox tells me, is that:
a. Copyright owners are no longer obligated to grant permission for use
of their work on rolls, discs, cylinders, or as ringtones.
b. Permission must be sought for each work, specifically, directly from
the copyright owner or agent.
c. Fees/terms are not specifically governed by statute, and must be
I have recently completed a large series of new discs for Mr. Christmas
Music Boxes which play the 7" plastic discs. I'm about to send out
requests for permission to license works from many artists. I'd like
to know if anyone (most likely the new roll producers) has actually
negotiated a licensing contract, and could suggest what terms (fees)
I should offer, keeping in mind these discs have a playing time of
approximately 25-26 seconds.
The few licenses I have requested in the past have resulted in free use.
(Well, Ralph Stanley wanted a CD of the music box!)
Any advice greatly appreciated. (I will be selling sets of three
(public domain) discs on eBay in the near future.)
Jack Perron - HensTooth Discs
[ Read about Jack's 15" Regina music box simulation program at
[ More articles about copyright matters are indexed at
[ -- Robbie