What is a Mechanical License?
By Master's Image, Jul 17 2014 01:30PM
A mechanical license gives you the right to record and distribute a published song owned by someone else, such as a cover song. Without a Mechanical License, you are in violation of U.S. Copyright Law to proceed with replication. In fact, Master’s Image cannot release the finished CD unless a client delivers a written Mechanical License for each copyrighted song first. Note that songs that are truly in the public domain do not require license, but be very sure the song really is in the public domain: don’t make assumptions at this point, don’t take short cuts on your research. It is a shame when a gifted artist gets entangled in a copyright lawsuit just as he begins to turn the corner and become noticed and successful.
Mechanical licenses can be secured directly with publishers or individuals, but the licenses are much faster and easier to obtain if the song is listed with the Harry Fox Agency — a clearinghouse setup by the publishing industry for speeding user access to mechanical licenses. You do not need a mechanical license for songs that are fully of your own writing.