Licensing FAQs
  1. What is a mechanical license?
    • A mechanical license is a license that grants the holder permission to make copies of a recorded copyrighted musical composition.  You must obtain a mechanical license from each publisher of a song if you intend to record it and make copies for distribution or personal use.
  2. What is the charge for using a song on my recorded project?
    • You will need to pay what is called the “current statutory mechanical rate”, which is 9.1 cents per song, per recording copy for songs five minutes or less in length.  For songs over five minutes, the rate is calculated by multiplying $.0175 per minute as demonstrated here:
      • 5:01 to 6:00 = 6 minute song (6 x $.0175 = $.105)
      • 6:01 to 7:00 = 7 minute song (7 x $.0175 = $.1225)
      • 7:01 to 8:00 = 8 minute song (8 x $.0175 = $.14)
      • 8:01 to 9:00 = 9 minute song (9 x $.0175 = $.1575)
  3. What is a compulsory mechanical license?
    • A compulsory mechanical license is license that can be obtained by following the requirements set out in section 115 of the Copyright Act.  Songs are only eligible for compulsory licensing if they have been previously distributed to the public in the U.S. under the authority of the copyright owner.  Under the compulsory mechanical license, a person may not change the basic melody or fundamental character of the work.  
  4. Does a Mechanical License allow me to use a pre-recorded soundtrack as part of my project?
    • No. The Mechanical License only allows you to use the underlying song copyright. In order to use a pre-recorded music track, you must ALSO contact the company who produced and/or owns the sound recording, or track, for a license.
  5. Do I need to obtain a separate license to print the song lyrics in a CD insert booklet?
    • If you have been granted a mechanical license to record a song, then you do not need to obtain separate permission to print the song lyrics in a CD insert booklet.  You are permitted to reprint the lyrics for sale along with the CD only.  However, this permission does not extend to any form of performance track, such as (but not limited to), accompaniment tracks, karaoke tracks, practice tracks, etc.
  6. What if I do not know the songwriter or publisher for the song I want to record?
    • You can start by searching on our “Song Search” in this website, or by doing some research on the PRO (performance rights organizations) websites.  ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC each have repertory databases that allow you to search by songwriter, title, publisher, performer, etc. Those sites are:
  7. What is a synchronization license?
    • A synchronization license is a license that grants the holder permission to use recorded music in combination with visual images.  You must obtain a synchronization license if you intend to use music in film, television, video (all formats), websites, etc.
  8. What is the ClearBox Rights, LLC license processing fee?
    • ClearBox Rights, LLC charges $15 to process custom, non-commercial licenses through our website, using a credit card.  This amount is not part of the royalty – it is a fee to cover the cost of issuing and processing each custom, non-commercial license. There is a fee of $25.00 per license to process non-commercial licenses outside of the credit card license center, which are sent to the ClearBox office as a fax, email, or hard copy request.
  9. So, I can save money by using the ClearBox Rights credit card license site?
    • Yes. Not only is the processing fee less, but you also receive your license immediately in most cases.
  10. The ClearBox Rights, LLC licensing percentage is less than 100%.  What does this mean?
    • If the ClearBox Rights, LLC licensing percentage is less than 100%, this means that we only represent a portion of the publishing for the song.  You will need to contact the other publisher(s) to obtain a license for the remaining portion.
  11. Do I still need a license if I only make a few copies and do not plan to sell my project?
    • Yes.  Under U.S. Copyright law, you must obtain a license and pay royalties even if you are only making a few copies that you do not intend to sell.
  12. Do I need a license to make photocopies of music?
    • Yes.  The cost for a photocopy license is $1.25 per copy of the song.  There is also a $15 license processing fee.
  13. What do I need to do to license my own arrangement of a copyrighted song?
    • If you are making any significant changes to the music or lyrics of a copyrighted song, you will need to obtain permission from the rights holder before proceeding with your project. Please send an mp3 and/or pdf of the lyrics and music to for approval.
  14. How do I obtain permission to use a ClearBox Rights, LLC song for a funeral or memorial service?
  15. I would like to use one of your songs in congregational worship.  How can I obtain permission?
    • You should first check to see if your church has a CCLI license.  If so, please contact CCLI to ask if your specific use is covered under that license.  If your church does not have a CCLI license, or if CCLI says your use is not covered – please contact us to obtain a license.
  16. I want to use song lyrics in a book.  How do I obtain permission?
    • Please send an email to to request permission.  In your request, please include the following:  what the book is about, the publishing company, the number of copies you plan to make, and an explanation of how the lyrics will be used in the novel. 
  17. What is the cost to include song lyrics in a book?
    • Generally, the cost for a license to include song lyrics in a book starts at a flat fee of $100.  However, the fee per project cannot be determined until we receive the information listed in question #16.
  18. I want to record or print the lyrics to a song in a different language.  Do I need permission to make the translation?
    • Yes, you must obtain permission from the rights holder before you record or make printed copies of your translation.  Please send an email to with the translation in another language, as well as a literal translation back into English.

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