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Licensing - General FAQ

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

What can be licensed through HFA's Songfile?

Songfile is a simple and fast way to obtain mechanical licenses for a limited number of physical recordings (CDs, cassettes and vinyl only) made and distributed in the U.S., as well as permanent digital downloads ("PDDs") of singles. Please note that digital downloads are referred to as configuration "SP" in HFA's systems.

Songfile may only be used to license up to 2,500 units (copies) of a song. If you are distributing more than 2,500 units of physical product or downloads, please set up an HFA Licensing Account. Information on how to do this can be found here.

Among other uses of music, the following cannot be licensed using HFA’s Songfile. Click on each item for more information:

Recordings with samples
New arrangements of copyright-protected songs
Karaoke or CD+G
DVD-A, SACD, DualDisc
Full album permanent downloads
Express Live CDs & PDDs
Ringtones, ringtunes or ringbacks
On-demand streams
Tethered or limited downloads
Digital jukeboxes, digital background music
Internet radio
Sound recording or master use rights
The right to print or display lyrics or sheet music (print rights)
VHS, DVD, streaming video, movies, TV shows, commercials (Synchronization licensing)
Public Performance
Licenses for more than 2,500 units of physical products or full downloads
Songs longer than 30 minutes

What happens after HFA issues the license?

HFA collects the royalties on the music publisher's behalf. The license agreements call for payment of royalties on a quarterly basis.

What is the current statutory mechanical rate? How is it calculated?

The current statutory mechanical royalty rate is $.091 (9.1 cents) per song per unit for recordings of compositions up to five minutes (5:00) in length.

For example, if one were to make a recording of a song that is less than five minutes in length (e.g. 4:07) and then manufacture and distribute 500 units of the recording, the total amount of royalties due would be $45.50. ($0.091 X 500 (units) = $45.50).

For songs over five minutes in length, the rate is based upon $.0175 (1.75 cents) per minute or fraction thereof as demonstrated below:
5:01 to 6:00 = $0.105 (6 X $.0175)
6:01 to 7:00 = $0.1225 (7 X $.0175)
7:01 to 8:00 = $0.14 (8 X $.0175)

For example, if one were to make a recording of a song that is six minutes and thirty-eight seconds in length (6:38) and then manufacture and distribute 500 units, the total amount of royalties due is $61.25. ($0.1225 X 500 (units) = $61.25).

You cannot obtain a reduced rate mechanical license through HFA’s Songfile. Information about reduced rates can be found here.

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, PDD licenses are only valid for one year.) If you want to make additional copies or obtain a new PDD license, you need to re-apply for another license.

If you are licensing more than 2,500 units and have a mechanical licensing account, royalties are due within 45 days after the close of each calendar quarter. If payments are not received by the due date, you will incur an interest charge of 1.5% per month, and your company may be subject to further legal action.

First Quarter ends March 31: Royalties must be received before May 15
Second Quarter ends June 30: Royalties must be received before August 15
Third Quarter ends September 30: Royalties must be received before November 15
Fourth Quarter ends December 31: Royalties must be received before February 15

You can provide your quarterly reporting and payment of mechanical royalties to us by email at royaltyfile@harryfox.com if you have an HFA Licensee Account. Click here for instructions and a simple Excel template.

If you have any questions, contact Collections at 212-834-0161 or collections@harryfox.com.

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 statutory rate. HFA will not issue a mechanical license at a reduced rate without written approval from the publisher.

How do I obtain a reduced rate on a license?

The Harry Fox Agency is not involved in negotiating royalty rates reduced from the statutory rate. A gratis license (no royalties paid) is also considered a reduced rate. Any reduced rates must be negotiated directly between you and the copyright owner, publisher, or administrator prior to obtaining the mechanical license. Reduced rate licenses are not available through Songfile. Once you obtain written permission for the reduced rate, you can obtain a license through HFA by submitting the original copy of that written permission with a standard mechanical license request

You can obtain HFA's standard mechanical licensing form here.

What if a record company asks for a license at less than the statutory rate?

HFA will not issue a mechanical license at less than the statutory rate unless so instructed in writing by the publisher.

I believe the song I am searching for is in the public domain. How can I verify my belief?

Please contact the US Copyright Office to verify the status of the song. A website which may assist you is www.pdinfo.com

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.

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.

What if I want to distribute more than 2,500 copies?

If you want to license more than 2,500 at one time and report and pay your royalties on a quarterly basis, please apply for an HFA Licensee Account.

How do I obtain print rights for sheet music?

The Harry Fox Agency does not offer print rights; however, you may secure print rights by contacting the publisher directly. You can use the following databases to locate publisher contact information:


How do I obtain performance rights?

The Harry Fox Agency does not handle public performance rights requests. However, a publisher may assign its public performance rights to one of the three following societies, in which case you may secure performance rights from that society:


How do I obtain "master use" rights?

Master use rights are required for previously recorded material that you do not own or control. The Harry Fox Agency does not process licenses for master use rights. Master use rights can only be obtained from the owner of the master recording, usually a record company.

You should obtain the master use license from the owner prior to requesting a mechanical license from The Harry Fox Agency.

How do I license a recording with samples?

Sampling is (1) the use of pre-recorded material within another recording, which requires a master use right and/or (2) the use of a portion of a musical composition that you don't own or control within another recording, which requires permission from the owner.

The Harry Fox Agency does not process licenses for master use rights or licenses for the use of a portion of a composition. They can only be obtained, respectively, from the owner of the master recording (usually a record company) and the publisher directly.

How do I license for digital uses other than single PDDs (full, permanent digital downloads)?

HFA licenses full album downloads, on-demand streams, limited downloads, ringtones, mastertones and ringbacks, digital jukeboxes and digital background music services; however, you cannot obtain these licenses through HFA’s Songfile. You can find information on HFA's digital licensing options here.

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 using HFA's regular licensing form which you can obtain here.

You can use the following databases to locate publisher information:


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 at http://www.ifpi.org/isrc/.

Does an HFA mechanical license cover karaoke or "CD+G" product?

No. An HFA mechanical license does not cover any use of the song or lyrics in karaoke or "CD+G" product. For these rights, you must contact the publisher(s) directly.

Does HFA license multi-session recordings (DVD-A, SACD, DualDisc)?

HFA does license multi-session recordings; however, you cannot obtain these licenses through HFA's Songfile. Please contact the HFA Licensing Department for more information at licensingservice@harryfox.com.

Does HFA license internet radio?

HFA does not license "internet radio" - streaming audio that is pre-programmed. HFA does license interactive streaming - songs that are streamed to the user when the user selects particular tracks. Click here for more information about interactive streaming.

Does HFA license recordings imported from other countries?

Yes, HFA does license recordings imported into the U.S. for sale; however, you cannot obtain these licenses through HFA’s Songfile. You can obtain the forms for import licensing here.

Please note that you may also be responsible for mechanical licenses in the country in which the recording was initially made.

What if I want to manufacture and distribute outside of the US, how do I obtain permission?

You will need to contact the foreign society within the country in which you will be manufacturing and distributing the product. For additional information, visit HFA International Monitoring.

Registered Users

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



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