CMRRA issues mechanical licences through two basic plans: “Pay-As-You-Press/Import, or pursuant to the terms of CMRRA’s standard Mechanical Licensing Agreement (MLA).
If you are manufacturing or importing physical music products, such as CD’s, in small quantities, or releasing sound recordings on a one-shot or limited basis, “pay-as-you-press” licensing is the appropriate method for you.
Applying for a “pay-as-you-press/import” licence is a multi-step process.
STEP 1: You must complete an Application for Mechanical Licensing Form for each song you intend to reproduce (or each song embodied on a product you intend to import).
STEP 2: You must complete the Mechanical Licensing Royalty Calculation Sheet, which summarizes the total amount payable for all the songs for which you are seeking licences. The total amount payable is comprised of the royalty fees, CMRRA’s handling fee and the payment of all applicable taxes. Please note that:
(i) Royalties must be calculated based on (a) the standard mechanical royalty rate and (b) the total number of copies to be manufactured or imported, which must be reported on the Royalty Calculation Sheet.
Royalty Rate: the standard mechanical royalty rate in Canada is currently $0.083 per song, per copy, where the running time of the recording is five minutes or less, plus $0.0166 per copy for each additional minute or partial minute of running time.
Minimum number of copies: the minimum number of copies for which a mechanical licence will be issued is 500, whether or not you are pressing or importing a smaller number of copies.
Please note that a few publishers represented by CMRRA reserve the right to separately approve each application, and that their royalty rate may be higher than the current standard rate, in which case we will advise you of the additional amount to be paid. If a publisher refuses to authorize a licence, we will advise you and refund the amount in question.
(ii) Your application is subject to a nonrefundable Handling Fee of 6% of your total order or $5.00; whichever is greater. This fee is necessary to cover printing, postage and other costs which are not met from the royalties alone.
(iii) Each product requires its own calculation sheet so the calculation of the administration fee and taxes can be done accordingly. Please do not merge multiple products on one calculation sheet.
(iv) If you are a Canadian* resident, your payment must also include the applicable taxes (HST for provinces where it is applicable, otherwise GST only for provinces with no HST).
*U.S. residents are exempt.
STEP 3: You must provide us with your royalty payment as calculated in Step 2 above. Payment may be made by way of certified cheque or money order. Where payment is made by cheque, your licence application will not be processed until your cheque has cleared. For the quickest service, pay by way of money order and provide us with the required copy of your pressing invoice at the same time.
Note on Refund Policy: if you make an application, and render payment, for a song in the public domain or not represented by CMRRA, the royalty portion of your payment for this song/share will be refunded immediately upon confirmation by CMRRA, but not the associated Handling Fee.
Important: Once a licence has been issued by CMRRA, we are unable to refund or credit any royalties for the song in question in the event you decide to not use it. It is thus critically important that you be certain of the song you wish to use before the licence is issued by CMRRA. If a licence has not been issued, and you have decided to not use the song in question, CMRRA will refund the royalty portion of your payment for this song, but not the associated Handling Fee.
STEP 4: You must provide us with a confirmation from your presser of the number of copies to be manufactured. This can take the form of a copy of your pressing order, the presser’s invoice or a written confirmation from the presser of the number of copies to be manufactured. For imports, you will need to provide us with the customs manifest or other documentation confirming the number of copies to be imported.
Note that a pressing confirmation is not necessary where fewer than 200 copies are manufactured.
STEP 5: You must complete, sign and date the enclosed Pressing Information Waiver. While it is your responsibility as the licence applicant to provide us with the pressing documentation outlined above, we have found that this documentation is not always provided to us in a timely fashion. As such, it is necessary for CMRRA to be given the authorization to obtain this information directly from your presser to ensure prompt processing of your licences and of our publisher principals’ royalties.
STEP 6: If you intend to create an adaptation or translation of an original work, or to use an adaptation or already existing translation, you need to obtain authorization. While CMRRA can grant mechanical licenses for the reproduction of musical works controlled by its publishers, the words and the melody used for your recording must correspond to those of the original musical work. In other words, a license can only be granted for a new arrangement of a work if no changes are brought to the fundamental structure, chords and/or lyrics of the composition.
With the exception of public domain works, any fundamental modifications made to a musical work must first be approved in writing by its publisher(s), and possibly its author(s), before CMRRA can grant a license for it. Please note that if a composition is owned by more than one publisher, all publishers must give their authorization before the adaptation can be recorded. Since any publisher can refuse to authorize an adaptation or translation, we recommend that you not record your version of the song before the appropriate rights are secured.
The responsibility to secure these rights is that of the adaptor, translator or eventual recipient of the license. In order to obtain these rights, you must contact the concerned publisher(s) directly. Generally, a publisher will require the following information to approve an adaption/translation of its work:
- The original title of the work used along with the name of its authors/composers;
- The new title given to the adaptation along with the names of the adaptors/translators;
- The original lyrics of the work being arranged;
- The new or translated lyrics of the adaptation;
- If the adaptation is in a language other than English, a literal English translation of the lyrics.
Once you have received the required approvals from the concerned publisher(s), CMRRA will be happy to issue the mechanical license(s) on behalf of the publisher(s) for your recording. Please note that a copy of the signed agreement between you and the concerned publisher(s) will need to be included in your license application.
If you wish to use an existing adaptation or translation of a musical work, you must send an application for mechanical licenses to CMRRA following the procedures outlined in the Instructions for Mechanical Licensing Application.
On the form entitled Application for Mechanical Licensing, you must include both the title of the original work and the adapted work as well as the name of the authors and composers of the original work and the name of the adaptors and/or translators.
If the adaptation is registered as authorized in our database, you will be granted a license. However, it may happen that the adaptation/translation you wish to use has never been properly authorized by the concerned parties. If this is the case, and you still wish to reproduce the arrangement, you will have to follow the steps outlined above under "Creation of an adaptation or translation of an original work."
STEP 7: Mail all of the above (licence applications, payment, pressing invoice, as well as any other correspondence) to the following address:
Attention: Independent Licensing Department
56 Wellesley Street West, Suite 320
In order to avoid any processing delays, please ensure that you have provided CMRRA the following necessary items:
- Application for Mechanical License form(s), one for each composition
- CMRRA Royalty Calculation Sheet, listing all compositions and amounts payable
- A cheque or money order in the amount payable (credit cards or cash payments are not accepted)
- A copy of either your pressing order, invoice, or letter from the presser confirming the total number of units to be manufactured. CMRRA will not accept ‘quotes’
- A completed copy of the Pressing Information Waiver
It is important to note that all of the items listed below must be supplied in order for CMRRA to process your application.
Where the ownership of the song you have applied for has already been confirmed and registered in our database, you can expect to receive your licences within three to six weeks. When you receive your licence, you will be required to sign and return one copy to CMRRA. Any errors should be brought to our attention immediately.
The licences issued to you will be limited to the number of copies you have specified in your application and paid for. If you wish to manufacture or import additional copies of your product beyond the number set out in the licence, you must re-apply for an additional licence for those additional copies by submitting a new application and following steps 2 to 7 of the Pay-As-You-Press/Import Licence Application Process.
In order to avoid submitting licence applications and making a payment of royalties and handling fees for songs not represented by CMRRA, we invite you to research our song and publisher databases. CMRRA’s database contains over 2 million songs and is an excellent source of information regarding musical works written and published by copyright owners located all over the world.
While we do our best to make sure that the song and publisher information appearing on our website is accurate and up-to-date, song and catalogue ownership regularly change hands, which may cause songs to come in and out of our repertoire within a short period of time. If a change in our representation occurs after you’ve done your research and submitted your licence application, we’ll let you know.
It is also possible that the musical works you are looking for may not appear in our database. This does not mean that those musical works are not represented by CMRRA. Rather, in those cases, CMRRA will need to add the work to its database and conduct research to confirm the identity of the rightsholders in question. The process of researching and confirming song ownership information may take a few days to many months. It’s important to note that CMRRA is unable to issue a licence for a song (or part thereof) until we have confirmed the identity of the copyright owner(s) and that such copyright owner(s) is represented by CMRRA.
It may happen from time to time that a copyright owner cannot be identified or located. If such is the case with the musical work you wish to use, CMRRA will refund the royalties to you after we have exhausted all possible avenues of research. At that point, you may then apply to the Copyright Board of Canada for an Unlocatable Owner’s licence pursuant to Section 77 of the Copyright Act.
A "pay-as-you-press/import" licence is a type of mechanical licence issued by CMRRA for licensees who only occasionally manufacture or import products in Canada or who do so in small quantities. Royalties for this type of licence must be paid in advance, along with the submission of the licence application, and is limited to the number of units manufactured/imported and paid for.
Yes, record labels who are licensed under an MLA can report royalties to CMRRA on a quarterly basis as products are sold. However, parties to an MLA are also required to keep track of, and process, any change in the ownership of the musical works they have used in order to produce accurate royalty statements each quarter.