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Frequently Asked Questions
Basic
What does HFA do?

HFA is the leading provider of right management, licensing, and royalty services for the U.S. music industry and issues the largest number of licenses for the use of music in both physical and digital distribution formats. HFA also serves the D.I.Y. market with Songfile, the company's online licensing tool. Slingshot, HFA's rights management service offering, includes a suite of information management and technology solutions designed to simplify and facilitate the administration of intellectual property rights. For more information about HFA, please click here.

What is a Music Publisher?
A music publisher owns or administers musical works written by songwriters. Publishing companies range from large, multi-national corporations to individual, self-published songwriters. Publishers discover and promote songwriting talent, as well as provide important business services for their songwriters. These services include pitching their song catalog to music executives, recording artists, producers, managers and others to secure placement for the songs on appropriate commercial recordings. In addition, music publishers finance and produce demo recordings, pitch songs for television shows, movies, and commercials, issues licenses and collect royalties. Music publishers also register and enforce the copyrights they administer.
What is a Licensee?
A licensee is a person or business entity who has been granted a license to reproduce and distribute copyrighted musical works to the public for private use within the U.S. HFA licensees range from garage bands and religious organizations to record companies and also include online music services, ringtone companies and digital background music providers.
What is Copyright?
The U.S. Library of Congress defines copyright a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
  • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work;
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
If you would like more detailed information about copyrights, the link above to the U.S. Copyright Office provides general information on copyright basics, copyright application forms and other copyright-related resources.
What is a Mechanical License?
For more information on mechanical licenses, please click here.
How do I obtain a Mechanical License?
For more information on obtaining a mechanical license, please click here.
What is a Compulsory Mechanical License?
If a composition has already been commercially recorded and released to the general public, and you wish to record and distribute that composition yourself (and you are not the original songwriter), you must obtain a compulsory mechanical license. The requirements of the compulsory mechanical license are outlined in Section 115 of the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act. The HFA mechanical license is a written variation of the compulsory license.
What is the Statutory Rate?
The royalty rate (what gets paid to the music publisher) for a statutory mechanical license is set by law and is known as the "statutory rate." For information on the current statutory rates, click here.
I'm making only a few copies/giving the CDs away/not making much money. Isn't that "fair use"?
Making a limited number of copies or giving away CDs is not "Fair Use". Unless you are creating recordings that are covered under the fair use section of the U.S. Copyright Act , you need to obtain licenses for your recordings regardless of whether or not you are selling them.

"Fair Use" is a limitation on the rights granted under U.S. Copyright Law that allows reproduction of a copyrighted work for certain purposes, such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research. Fair use doesn’t include small quantity recordings made for or by charity or religious organizations; nor does it exempt recordings that are distributed without charge. The distinction between "Fair Use" and infringement is often not clear and it may be advisable to consult an attorney. Willful copyright infringement can carry statutory damages up to $150,000 per infringement.
What are Master Use Rights?
Master use rights are rights related to the use of master sound recordings required for previously recorded material that you don't own or control. HFA doesn’t issue licenses for master use rights. Master use rights can only be obtained from the owner of the master recording, usually a record company. In order to expedite processing, we recommend that you obtain the master use license from the owner prior to requesting a mechanical license from HFA.
What is a Sample?
A sample is typically the use of an excerpt of a sound recording embodying a copyrighted composition inserted in another sound recording. This process is often referred to as digital sampling and requires licenses for the use of the portion of the composition and the sound recording that was re-used in the new sound recording. In some instances, artists re-record the portion of the composition used in the new recording and, therefore, only need to obtain a license for the use of the sampled composition.
Publisher Representation
What do I need to do to have HFA represent my music publishing company?
For HFA to represent your music publishing company for mechanical licensing, you must affiliate with us.
How do I submit a song ownership claim of ownership?
To submit a song ownership claim to HFA, please send a letter on your company letterhead via email, fax (646)487-6779, or mail to:

HFA
Attn: Client Services
40 Wall St, 6th Floor
NY, NY 10005

Once your claim has been received, we research the song ownership information in our song database. In the event of a discrepancy between your claim and the song information in our database, a "Notice of Claim" will be sent to the publisher of record to initiate a resolution of your claim. Otherwise, if your claim is concurrent with the results of the research, the song information will be updated in our song database.
What does HFA do to earn its commission and what is the current commission rate?
HFA's commission rate is 8.5% of all payments collected for all categories of licensing services we offer, except in cases of licensing activities expressly offered to publishers on a reduced or commission-free basis.
Who do I contact with questions about royalty distribution or payments?
If you are an HFA-affiliated publisher, please contact clientservices@harryfox.com. If you have received a payment from HFA and don't have an HFA Online Account to access the detailed statement, please apply for an account here.

If you are interested in becoming an HFA-affiliated publisher, please click here.
When will I receive my royalties?
At the end of each quarter licensees are generally allowed 45 days to complete their accounting and prepare royalty statements that are sent to HFA. HFA reviews these statements for completeness and then processes and releases payments to affiliated publishers. For more information, please send an email to clientservices@harryfox.com.
Can a writer become affiliated with HFA?
No, HFA doesn't represent writers directly. HFA represents music publishers, who in turn represent writers. However, if a writer is self-published, we may represent his or her publishing company if it meets our affiliation requirements. For more information, click here.
What is the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA)?
In 1992, Congress passed the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) which amended the U.S. Copyright Law to require electronics manufacturers and importers to pay royalties on consumer digital audio recording devices (hardware) and digital recording media (blank recordable tapes and discs) manufactured and distributed in the United States or imported and distributed in the United States. Music publishers are entitled to a portion of the monies collected under the AHRA. HFA is the primary agent authorized to distribute these royalties to music publishers.
Does HFA collect and distribute AHRA Royalties?
Yes. Please contact clientservices@harryfox.com for more information about affiliating with HFA for the collection of AHRA royalties.
If I affiliate with HFA, can HFA collect royalties from any licensee anywhere?
HFA only issues mechanical licenses to record companies distributing in the U.S. However, for publishers without international sub-publishing arrangements, HFA does maintain reciprocal representation agreements with over 30 foreign collecting societies and the territories they represent. This enables HFA to collect non-U.S. royalties for publishers who have designated HFA to do so.
Licensing
How do I pay my mechanical royalties to HFA?
If you have obtained a limited quantity license through HFA’s Songfile you have already paid the mechanical royalties. No further payment is necessary unless you wish to make additional copies beyond the number of units specified in your initial license or your license has expired (while a license for physical goods has an indefinite term, permanent digital download licenses are only valid for one year.) If you want to make additional copies or obtain a new permanent digital download license, you will need to re-apply for the license via Songfile. If you have licensed more than 2,500 units through an HFA mechanical licensing account, royalties are due pursuant to the terms of the license, which generally require payment within 45 days after the close of each calendar quarter. Click here for more info.

If payments are not received by the due date, you will incur an interest charge at the current statutory rate, and your company may be subject to further legal action.
What is a reduced rate license?
A reduced rate license is a mechanical license that the licensee has negotiated with the publisher at a rate reduced from the statutory rate. HFA will not issue a mechanical license at a reduced rate without written approval from the publisher.

Any reduced rates must be negotiated directly with the copyright owner, publisher, or administrator prior to obtaining the mechanical license. A gratis license (no royalties paid) is considered a reduced rate. When requesting a reduced rate license through HFA, a licensee must submit an original copy of written publisher approval of the reduced rate with a standard mechanical license request.

Please note that reduced rate licenses are not available through Songfile or for digital configurations.
I believe the song I am searching for is in the public domain. How can I verify my belief?
You may find it useful to search for the song on:

Pdinfo.com
Pdmusic.org
I want to manufacture less than 25 copies of my CD, cassette, or vinyl album, or I think there will be less than 25 downloads of my version of the song. Do I still need a license?
Yes, it is required under U.S. Copyright Law. This is how the publisher - and ultimately, the songwriter - gets compensated for the use of their song.

HFA licenses for a minimum of 25 units of physical products (CDs, cassettes, and vinyl), or 25 permanent digital downloads (PDDs). You can apply for these licenses quickly and easily using Songfile and pay with a credit card (MasterCard, Visa, or American Express) or from your checking account.
How do I obtain a synchronization license?
To find out how to obtain a synchronization license, please click here.
How do I obtain print rights for sheet music?
HFA doesn't print rights; however, you may obtain print rights by contacting the publisher directly. To locate publisher information, you can use the Songfile Public Search or visit:
ASCAP
BMI
SESAC
U.S. Copyright Office
How do I obtain performance rights?
HFA doesn't handle public performance rights licensing. For performance rights inquiries, please contact:
ASCAP
BMI
SESAC

How do I obtain permission to use a sample?
HFA doesn't license samples. You will need to obtain permission directly from both the owner of the master recording (usually the record company) and the publisher.
How do I license a new arrangement of a copyright-protected song, or a medley?
A new version or arrangement of an existing song that alters the melody or character of the song, or a medley of existing songs, is called a derivative work. You need to obtain permission from the publisher directly to create a derivative work and include that permission when you apply for a mechanical license here. To locate publisher information, visit:
ASCAP
BMI
SESAC
U.S. Copyright Office
What is a UPC code and how can I obtain one?
The UPC (Universal Product Code or bar code) is issued by the Uniform Code Council (UCC). This is not required to complete the Songfile transaction, but a UPC code is required in most point of sale and retail environments. If you would like to obtain one, see the UCC website.
What is an ISRC and how can I obtain one?
The ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is the international identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. Each ISRC is a unique and permanent identifier for a specific recording which can be permanently encoded into a product as its digital fingerprint. You can obtain more information about ISRC here.
Does an HFA mechanical license cover karaoke or "CD+G" product?
No, for these rights, you must contact the publisher(s) directly. To locate publisher information, you can use the Songfile Public Search or visit:
ASCAP
BMI
SESAC
U.S. Copyright Office
Does HFA license multi-session recordings (DVD-A, SACD, DualDisc)?
Yes. For multi-session licenses, please contact the HFA Licensing Department at licensing@harryfox.com.
Does HFA license internet radio?
No, HFA doesn't license internet radio (e.g. pre-programmed services such as Pandora or iTunes Radio).
How do I obtain permission to manufacture and distribute outside of the U.S.?
You will need to contact the performance rights society within the country in which you will be manufacturing and distributing the product.
I previously obtained a mechanical license to distribute a song on a CD. Will a new license be required for a digital configuration, such as a download, an interactive stream, or a ringtone?
Yes. Each format (physical or digital configuration) you distribute requires its own license. Click here for more information.
I am not charging anyone to access these songs on my website. Do they still have to be licensed?
Yes, it is required under U.S. Copyright Law. This is how the publisher - and ultimately the songwriter - gets compensated for the use of their song.
I would like to obtain licenses to offer interactive streams of a cover song. How can I do this?
HFA offers licenses for interactive streams for one cent ($0.01) per stream via Songfile. Licenses are available for a minimum of 100 interactive streams up to 10,000 interactive streams per song licensed. These licenses are valid for the period of one year.

For quantities over 10,000 interactive streams, please contact services@rumblefish.com.
I am an artist or label who is not located in the U.S., but would like to distribute my music through a U.S. online music distribution site. Am I able to obtain a digital license through HFA?
Please contact services@rumblefish.com.
My digital distribution service is not located within the United States. Am I still able to obtain a digital license through HFA?
Please contact services@rumblefish.com.
Songfile®
The HFA licensing percentage is not 100%. Why? What does that mean?
This means that HFA does not represent 100% of the mechanical rights to this song. HFA may not represent one of the publishers that have partial ownership of the song, or HFA may not be authorized to license this format.

If HFA licenses part of the song, you can get a license for the percentage of the song that HFA represents through Songfile. To obtain a license for the remaining percentage, or for a format that HFA is not authorized to license, you will need to contact the publisher directly. It is your responsibility to obtain licenses from each publisher that owns part of the song so that you are licensed for 100% of the song. If you are not licensed for 100% of the song, you could be liable for infringement.

To locate publisher information, you can use the Songfile Public Search or visit:
ASCAP
BMI
SESAC
U.S. Copyright Office
I obtained my license through HFA's Songfile, and my license states that it's limited to a certain number of copies. Do I need to apply for a new license if my distribution goes beyond that number?
Yes. You can obtain additional licenses through Songfile in quantities of up to 2,500 units.
Do I need a license for less than 100 interactive streams?
Yes, it is required under U.S. Copyright Law. This is how the publisher - and ultimately, the songwriter - gets compensated for the use of their song. HFA licenses a minimum of 100 interactive streams. You can apply for these licenses quickly and easily using Songfile and pay with a credit card (MasterCard, Visa, or American Express) or from your checking account. A license for fewer than 100 interactive streams must be obtained directly from the publisher.
How can I license more than 2,500 units of physical or digital product?
HFA Songfile is designed to facilitate limited quantity mechanical licensing. To license more than 2,500 units, please set up a Licensee Account with HFA. Information on how to do this can be found here.
How can I license more than 10,000 interactive streams?
HFA Songfile is designed to facilitate limited quantity mechanical licensing. To license more than 10,000 interactive streams, please set up a Licensee Account with HFA. Information on how to do this can be found here.
Can I license Express Live CDs and permanent digital downloads through HFA Songfile?
HFA offers mechanical licensing for "Express Live" CDs and permanent digital downloads, targeted at companies that enable music fans to purchase recordings or downloads of concerts right after the concert, either at the venue or from a web site. Express Live licensing is not available through HFA Songfile; to obtain this type of license contact HFA Client Services at clientservices@harryfox.com.
Why can I find a song in the public search, but not when I search to license it through Songfile? Why can I license a song for some formats, but not others?
Publishers may not always give HFA permission to license their catalogs for all formats. If a song is not available for licensing through Songfile, registered Songfile users may request that HFA try to obtain permission for licensing from the publisher(s) using the Songfile Song Request form.
How can I license a song longer than 30 minutes?
Songs longer than 30 minutes can't be licensed through Songfile. Please submit a standard HFA mechanical license request form, which can be downloaded here.
How do I use the License Reorder Option?
Songfile's License Reorder option lets you create a new license request from a previous license that was issued to you. You can use this option to quickly obtain licenses for additional copies of the same recording; to obtain licenses for the same recording but for a different format; or to build a new license request using those songs for a different recording (such as a "greatest hits" or a live album).

To use the License Reorder option, log in to your Songfile account and click on the "View My Licenses" button. You will see a list of the Songfile licenses issued to you. Select which license you wish to reorder by clicking the "reorder" link in the column on the far right. You will then see the details of your previous order, and depending on any changes you want to make, will be auto-populated into your new license request (you will have the opportunity to change the licensee and artist information when you check out). Verify the type of license (physical, ringtones or PDDs), configuration or online distribution information, and the quantity for your new license.

The Songfile system will then verify HFA's current representation of the song. Over time, HFA's representation of a song may change. It is also possible that HFA may not represent the song for the alternate format. If there are any changes, the "Song Licensing Status" screen will appear. Any changes to HFA's song representation since the time of your original license transaction are highlighted in the "% Licensable" column. If HFA now represents more of a song, the licensable percentage is highlighted in green. If HFA now represents less of a song, the licensable percentage is highlighted in yellow. If at this time HFA does not represent the song for the desired configuration, the song is highlighted in red. If a song is not represented by HFA, Songfile will not place it in your shopping cart. Once the status is verified, you will see the Songfile Cart. If you wish, you can then remove songs from the cart, or you can add additional songs by clicking the "search again" button. Once you have entered all the songs you would like for this licensing transaction, click "license request/check out." The fields on the check out screens will be auto-populated with the licensee and artist information from the original transaction. Make any necessary changes and complete any additional fields. Please note that HFA does not retain your payment information, so you will need to enter a credit card or bank account number, depending on your payment choice.

Note: You are responsible for obtaining license authority from each publisher that owns part of the above song. If you do not obtain all required license authority, you could be liable for infringement. If HFA represents only part of the song, you can complete your licensing transaction through Songfile for the percentage of the song that HFA represents; your royalty rate will be pro-rated accordingly. To obtain a license for the remaining percentage, or for a song that is not represented by HFA, you must contact the publisher directly. For more information on this process, contact clientservices@harryfox.com.
What is an HFA Song Code?
The HFA Song Code is a 6-character unique identifier for a song in HFA's database. You can find the song code on a previously issued HFA mechanical license. It is also included in the Songfile information for that song.
How do I save a cart?
To save your cart, please click on "Save Cart" at the bottom of your Songfile page. Then click on "Confirm Save and Continue Order." This will save your order for 90 days. Please note that if you do not click on "Confirm Save and Continue Order," your Songfile order will not be saved.
I added multiple songs into my cart. Why is there only one song in my saved cart?
The Save Cart function is designed to allow customers to save orders, rather than individual tracks. To save multiple songs as part of one order, you must add all the songs for your release to one cart. HFA cannot combine the carts for you.
How do I add multiple songs to one cart?
Search for your first song and click "Add to Cart" on your Songfile search results page. Next, click on "Search Again" to repeat this process and add additional songs to your cart. Once all desired songs have been added to your cart, click on "Save Cart" to save your order or "License Request/Check Out" to complete your order.
When I click on "View My Cart", my order is missing.
If you do not choose "Confirm Save and Continue Order" in the Songfile Cart - Confirm Save screen, your Songfile order will not be saved.
When I click on the View Cart icon on the top right of my Songfile page, I am unable to view my existing orders.
The View Cart icon will only display your current order. To view all saved orders, please return to the Songfile homepage and click on "View My Cart."
Can I add songs to a completed order?
No. When you complete an order, your Saved Cart is emptied and is no longer available through the "View My Cart" option. You must begin a new license search, or if you are licensing more songs for the same physical recording, you can use the "reorder" option and remove previous songs from the order. This will save you some steps in the check out process.
Does a Songfile license apply outside the U.S.?
No. A Songfile mechanical license is only valid for CDs, cassettes, LPs, ringtones, interactive streams and permanent digital downloads manufactured and distributed in the U.S. and its territories. If you would like to distribute your release outside of the U.S., you will need to follow the mechanical licensing laws of that country. Note that if you produce your release outside of the U.S., you may also need to obtain licenses in the country of manufacture. You are solely responsible for securing any rights and obtaining any additional license or authority that may be required with respect to any other third parties.
eSynch®
What is a synchronization license?
A synchronization license authorizes the use of music in audio-visual works, such as films, television, videos, websites, and video games. A synchronization license is needed from the music publisher for permission to synchronize the composition, and a master use license is needed if a specific recorded version of a composition is used. eSynch offers licensing for uses including wedding videos, corporate presentations and videos, websites, and films for exhibition in film festivals.

Synchronization rights do not include the right to publicly perform music if your audio-visual project is transmitted to the public. In that case, you may need a public performance license from one of the performing rights organizations:
ASCAP
BMI
SESAC
How do I obtain a synchronization license through HFA?
HFA makes it fast and easy to obtain sync licenses online through eSynch. eSynch is a one-stop-shop for music that you are able to use in certain types of audio-visual works within the U.S.

If you are not an eSynch registered user, you may create an account here. If you already have a Songfile account, use that login and password to access eSynch. Once you have logged in to eSynch, you can search for and listen to the music you may want to license by clicking on “Search and Listen.â€
What rights are granted when an eSynch license is purchased?
Your eSynch license grants you the right to synchronize the song you choose with certain visual works within the U.S.
How long does it take to obtain a license through eSynch?
Pick your song, tell us a little bit about yourself and your project, and you’re almost done! Your eSynch license is issued immediately after you accept the sync license terms and purchase your license.
Do I need a synchronization license if I am giving away or showing my project for free?
Yes.
What if the track that I want to license is not available through eSynch?
To obtain rights for a track that is not available for licensing through eSynch, you need to contact the publisher and sound recording owner directly. To locate publisher information, you can use the Songfile Public Search or visit:
ASCAP
BMI
SESAC
U.S. Copyright Office
Does eSynch license me for exploitation of my audio-visual work outside the U.S.?
No.
I have gone through the eSynch licensing process and have more questions. How can I contact HFA?
Digital Definitions
Permanent Digital Downloads
A permanent digital download is each individual delivery of a phonorecord by digital transmission of a sound recording (embodying a musical composition) resulting in a reproduction made by or for the recipient which may be retained and played by the recipient on a permanent basis.
Limited Downloads
A limited download is a digital file that is delivered electronically to a computer or other device to reside there on a limited basis. There are two types of limited downloads: time-limited download (for example, the song resides on the computer for 30 days) and use-limited download (for example, the song can be heard 12 times before it can no longer be played). Limited downloads are sometimes called tethered downloads.
Interactive Streaming
Interactive streaming is when a digital file is transmitted electronically to a computer or other device at the specific request of the user in order to allow the user to listen to a recording or a playlist contemporaneously with the user's request. Interactive streams are sometimes referred to as on-demand streams.

The five defined types of interactive streams that require a mechanical license are:

Standalone Non-Portable Streaming Only
A service where the user can listen to sound recordings only in the form of interactive streams and only from a non-portable device to which such streams were originally transmitted while device has a live network connection.
Standalone Non-Portable Mixed Use
A service where the user can listen to sound recordings either in the form of interactive streams or limited downloads, but only from a non-portable device to which the streams or downloads were originally transmitted.
Standalone Portable Mixed Use
A service where the user can listen to sound recordings as interactive streams or limited downloads from a portable device.
Bundled Services
A subscription service offering one or more products or services bundled together without separate pricing for the individual components of the bundle.
Free Ad-Supported Services
A service offering interactive streams and/or limited downloads to the end user free of charge.
Ringtone
A ringtone is an excerpt of a musical composition embodied in a digital file and rendered into audio. Ringtones are stored in a user's mobile telephone, pager or other portable communications device and played whenever the device activates its ring or alert function (upon the arrival of a call, message or other notification). There are two basic types of ringtones: Phonic Ringtones and Pre-Recorded Ringtones. Phonic Ringtones are, most commonly, standard MIDI sound files that are either monophonic, where the ringtones are recreated using standard single notes, or polyphonic, where notes can be played simultaneously creating harmony and/or counterpoint. Pre-Recorded ringtones play actual clips from sound recordings.
Ring-back
Ring-back tones (aka "Answer Tones") substitute an excerpt of a particular master sound recording of a composition for the sound a caller normally hears while waiting for the person called to answer the phone.
Online Music Subscription Service
This is a service that allows a consumer to either stream or download music for a set fee for a set period of time. Examples include, but are not limited to, Rhapsody, Spotify, and Google Play.
User Generated Content
User Generated Content (UGC) refers to various kinds of websites where either entire or large portions of the content on the site are created by the users of the site (as opposed to the administrators). Also referred to as "consumer generated media" (CGM) or "user created content" (UCC), UGC includes content such as blogs, podcasts and user product reviews, and videos.
Social Media
Press & Video
What We're Listening to