From the invention of the player piano to the creation of the smartphone, copyright and technology have played a seemingly endless game of capture-the-flag. The upcoming Copyright and Technology Conference in New York on Tuesday, September 13th, plants both those flags firmly at Fordham University School of Law.

The conference keynote speaker is Kris Ahrend, chief executive officer of the Mechanical Licensing Collective, according to Bill Rosenblatt, program chair and conference co-producer.

“The Mechanical Licensing Collective, or the MLC, was a result of the 2018 Music Modernization Act that updates copyright law to deal with streaming music,” Rosenblatt explains.

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“The MLC’s job is to take data on playouts from all the streaming services, figure out whom to pay, and then pay those royalties. It collects rights ownership information from music publishers and songwriters [and] it collects the streaming data from the services providers. And the service providers all pay a fee into that entity which then gets disbursed in the form of royalty payments,” he tells me.

“This giant database of musical composition and music publishing rights ownership information was built during a global pandemic and was done on time. And the intent of having Kris keynote the conference is to show everyone how this is working and discuss how it could apply to other types of rights administration scenarios.”

In addition to his role with the 2022 Copyright and Technology Conference, Bill Rosenblatt is founder of GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies, a management consultancy focused on the content industries; an Adjunct Professor in the Music and Performing Arts Professions department at New York University; and a trustee of the Copyright Society of the USA. He is co-author with Howie Singer of Key Changes: The Ten Times Technology Disrupted the Music Industry, forthcoming from Oxford University Press.


Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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