What is the MCPS? Do I need to join it?
The MCPS is the "Mechanical Copyright Protection Society"
It lives at [url]http://www.mcps.co.uk[/url]
The MCPS is an organisation which helps composers and songwriters collect royalties (money) when other people make "mechanical copies" of their music.
("mechanical copies" means that the music has been recorded onto a format such as Compact Disc, cassette, vinyl, wax cylinder, video, multimedia, audio-visual or broadcast programmes...)
In the UK, under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988,
a person *automatically* owns the " copyright" on a piece of music that they have written - there is no need to "register" the music first...in fact, the composer owns the copyright until 70 years after their death!
If you own the copyright on a piece of music, the 1988 Act says you have the exclusive right to authorise or do the following with it:
- To copy the music
- To issue "mechanical copies" of the music to the public
- To perform, show or play the music in public
- To broadcast the music or include it in a cable programme service
- To make an adaptation of the work or to do any of the above in relation to an adaptation
If you own the copyright in a piece of music, you have the legal right to either prevent anyone else doing the above 5 things with it, or to charge them royalty money if they do.
Now, here follows a little story to illustrate where the MCPS comes into things....
So for example, Nick & Dave from the Feline Dream have written
a great song called "Anne Bloodface".
Madonna hears a demo of it, and wants to record a version of it,
to be included on her next album.
Since Nick & Dave own the copyright on the song "Anne Bloodface",
Madonna has to ask them politely if she can do a version of it.
Nick & Dave say she can, so long as Madonna agrees to pay them a royalty
of 50p every time her record company presses up a copy for sale.
Madonna thinks this is a fair offer, so she agrees.
Madonna then includes a version of "Anne Bloodface" on her new record,
"The Best Madonna Album in the World - EVAH!", available on CD and
cassette from Sony Music, world wide.
Madonna's new album is a huge hit, and in the next decade, sells 27 million copies across the globe.
On each of those 27 million copies, Nick & Dave are owed 50p!
So Madonna owes them about Â£13.5 million quid! Whoopie!
However, to physically get this money, Nick & Dave have to spend the next 10 years of their lives telephoning Sony Music offices all round the world, checking how many copies of "The Greatest Madonna Album in the Werld - EVAH!" have been sold in Kaula Lumpar that month, how many were pressed up and sold in the last financial quarter in South Africa, etc etc etc.
Unfortunately, this takes up so much of their time and energy that, despite eventually becoming rich, Nick & Dave never have the time to write any more tunes, and die of stress-induced alopecia, a shadow of their former selves! :-O
What a terrible senario readers -
but fear not, for this is where the MCPS is here to help!
Knowing that it would be completely and utterly impractical for songwriters to keep track of every CD or tape all around the world which contained a version of their music, and for them to negotiate royalty rates with each artist or record company for the use of these songs, and to individually chase up and collect all these royalties,
the MCPS offers songwriters the service of doing all this for them!
If a songwriter joins the MCPS, they assign part of the copyright in all their songs to MCPS (specifically, the right "to issue 'mechanical copies' of the music to the public".)
All the songwriter now needs to do, is provide the MCPS with a list of all the songs they've written.
Should any artist or record company want to manufacturer CDs, tapes, etc, which contain a recording of any of these songs,
the MCPS authorises this, and collects royalties from the them at a standard rate (from all around the world), and passes the money on to the songwriter, with them having to worry about any of it.
A small army of MCPS clerks, lawywers &
accountants spend all their waking hours collecting royalty money for songwriters, who can thus get on with more important things like writing more songs and laughing all the way to the bank.
So - hopefully that tells you what the MCPS is and what it does.
The next question - do *you* need to join it?
Well, if you write/compose music or lyrics, either on your own, or jointly with co-writers, AND at least one of your compositions has been recorded and commercially released to the public on CD/tape/wax cylinder/vinyl...
you could indeed benefit from joining the MCPS, and look forward to fat royalty cheques from them :-)
However, if you don't write music or lyrics (eg for instance, you play in a band, but don't write any of the songs), then NO, MCPS doesn't concern you.
And if you do write stuff, but none of it has been commercially released yet,
then you don't really need to join MCPS (not yet, anyways).
Other little points to note -
all of the above doesn't just apply if *other people* are recording your songs - you may well write your own material and perform it yourself, and play on your own recordings! (Yes, believe it or not in this world of manufactured Boy Bands - some folk do still write their own material!)
MCPS still deals with this case just the same - if your own songs are on your own record, MCPS will collect a 'mechanical royalty' for you, the songwriter, when the records are sold.
So if Nick & Dave recorded their own version of "Anne Bloodface", which appeared on their own album "People With & Without Pets", MCPS could collect 'mechanical' songwriting royalties for them on that too, as well as the version Madonna included on her "Best Madonna Album in the Werld - EVAH!" record.
If you are a famous popstar, you may not join MCPS directly - instead, you may assign the mechanical copyright on your songs to a Publishing Company, and the Publishing Company in turn join MCPS.
But for unsigned acts just starting out, perhaps who just are going to have one track of theirs included on a compilation album, for instance, you'd normally just join MCPS directly to begin with.
How do you join?
Basically, you pay them Â£50 for life membership. (Indeed, for 70 years after your life too ;-)
Full details are on [url]http://www.mcps.co.uk[/url]