RIAA, music publishers to continue talks

Expected to result in $300 mil in mechanical royalties

NEW YORK -- Negotiations between music publishers and the RIAA regarding mechanical royalties will continue Oct. 1 at an event sponsored by the Association of Independent Music Publishers.

The negotiations are expected to result in the disbursement of up to $300 million in mechanical royalties held at the major labels in unmatched and pending accounts. The National Music Publishers Assn. has retained lawyer Kenneth R. Feinberg to serve as a special master of any settlement distributions.

The NMPA and RIAA issued a joint statement on the negotiations: "The National Music Publishers Association and the Recording Industry Association of America are working together on a collaborative agreement to resolve pending and unmatched royalty accounts and institute cooperative procedures for the payment of mechanical royalties in a timely manner in the future. These negotiations are ongoing and the groups are optimistic that a compromise benefiting the entire music industry will be reached soon."

The negotiations began after the Copyright Royalty Board included a 1.5% late fee on royalty payments when it set royalty levels back in January. At the end of March the RIAA appealed the Copyright Royalty Board's final determination on royalty rates in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The unmatched and pending file cover mechanical royalties accumulated for a variety of reasons, including instances where labels didn't have song-share split information, correct mailing information for publishers, or when song information was incorrectly entered into the labels' system.

The talks also involve settlement discussions on how the late fee could be softened, sources say. If an overall settlement is achieved for the unmatched and pending accounts, Feinberg would oversee distribution of royalties from the labels to music publishers.

In the past, Feinberg has been involved in resolving many of "our nation's most challenging and widely known disputes," according to a biography supplied as part of the notice on the Oct. 1 AIMP event. He has served as the special master of the Federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 and fund administrator for the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund following the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech, among other disputes, and has been the fund administrator for a variety of claimant funds totaling more than $1 billion, according to the biography.