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Digital Licensing


The HFA website provides answers to commonly asked questions about mechanical licensing and other related inquiries.

What type of license is required for full permanent downloads of music?

For audio-only permanent digital downloads, a mechanical license is required. If you expect to deliver less than 2,500 permanent downloads, you can obtain the license through HFA Songfile. If you have an established HFA Licensing Account, you can also obtain the licenses through eMechanical, or if you need to obtain licenses in bulk (over 10,000 titles) please apply for an HFA Licensing Account.

Depending on your use, you may need to obtain other kinds of licenses that HFA does not provide. Click here for more information.

Does HFA license streams?

HFA licenses interactive streams (sometimes called on-demand streams). For more information on licensing interactive streaming for your service or website, click here.

HFA does not license programmed streaming (online radio). You should refer to the performing rights society websites for more information on this type of licensing (www.ascap.com, www.bmi.com, and www.sesac.com).

Does HFA license digital jukeboxes/background music/other "new media" products?

Yes. Please send an email to slingshot@harryfox.comdescribing your proposed use. A representative of HFA will then contact you.

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 or a ringtone?

Yes. Each format you distribute requires its own license. Click here to obtain information on how to request each type of license.

What is a ringtone?

A ringtone is an excerpt of a musical composition embodied in a digital file and rendered into audio. Ringtones are stored in an end-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. It should be noted that the term 'Pre-Recorded ringtone' is not the standard term industry-wide. They are also known as Trutones, Songtones, Master Ringtones, etc.

Do HFA permanent digital download or CD licenses cover ringtones?

No. You need to obtain a separate license for each format.

What is HFA's Ringtone Licensing Process?

A statutory ringtone license can be obtained using HFA’s eMechanical or bulk licensing process. For more information, click here.

Does HFA issue blanket licenses for ringtones?

No. Licenses must request and obtain a separate license for each song that they wish to offer as a ringtone. A single license will not cover all of the songs for a particular publisher, writer or catalog.

What is the rate for digital formats? Will certain songs be more expensive or have more restrictions?

Permanent digital downloads, ringtones, interactive streams and limited downloads can be licensed at a statutory mechanical rate under U.S. Copyright Law. All songs can be licensed under the same terms, but note that HFA may not be authorized by a publisher to license a song for all of these formats.

If I receive a mechanical license for a digital configuration from HFA, is that all I need?

HFA licenses cover the rights to make and distribute recordings of musical compositions. HFA licenses do NOT cover the use of existing sound recordings. Such "master rights" in existing sound recordings must be directly cleared with the appropriate copyright owner, usually a record company (label).

Additionally, please note that HFA may not represent all of the publishers on a given song. Therefore, the license you receive from HFA will only cover the percentage that is HFA-represented. You will need to obtain a mechanical license directly from any additional publishers that are not represented by HFA.

How do I pay? When do I pay? How long do I have to pay?

If you obtained your license through HFA’s Songfile, you do not need to pay anything more (unless you exceed the quantity of downloads on the license and need to obtain additional licenses). If you obtained your license through eMechanical or our bulk process, you will need to report your royalties on a quarterly basis as per the terms of your license. You are required to pay for usage for as long as you offer that song as a permanent digital download. Note that HFA’s licenses incorporate the statutory late fee of 1.5% a month, or 18% a year for all royalty payments due on or after March 1, 2009.

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 on-demand streams of a cover song on a third-party's website (for example, my band's profile page on a social networking website). How can I do this?

HFA now 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 streams, licenses for interactive streaming can be obtained through our bulk licensing process. If you are interested in obtaining such licenses, please contact slingshot@harryfox.com. Please note that in order to satisfy your obligations pursuant to the bulk licensing process for the distribution of interactive streams, you must be able to report information such as service revenue, subscriber information, content costs, and applicable performance royalty expenses. Information on the rates for bulk licensing can be found here.

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 slingshot@harryfox.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 slingshot@harryfox.com.

Registered Users

This area is for registered users of HFA Songfile and HFA Online.

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