If you are planning to produce audio CDs or have an audio piece in your product, you should start by getting the mechanical license for any part of the recording that may run into copyright issues. A mechanical license confirms that you have complied with copyright laws and that any royalties due have been paid to the original composer of the material.
If you are based in the U.K, you need to contact MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) who will issue you an AP2 license or a ‘no claims’ certificate. In the U.S, you should contact the Harry Fox Agency in New York.
The majority of the CD replication companies will not accept your replication job without these licences in place. This is because most CD replication companies are members of the Anti-Piracy Compliance Programme run by the International Recording Media Association (IRMA). The IRMA protects copyright holders from unauthorized copying of their materials. The IRMA also takes action against pirates and replicators who copy material without authorization. Trying to replicate a CD without the necessary paperwork could land you as well as the CD replication company in a lot of trouble.
The company could get its license revoked and you would lose money as well as your master CD. This is why most well-known companies do not run the risk and if you submit your master for replication without the legal paperwork, they will not only cancel the project but also charge a cancellation fee. The process of getting your ‘no claims’ certificate can take a few weeks so make sure you plan in advance.
Even if all the audio tracks have been written by you, you still need to apply to the MCPS or other similar body, depending on the country you are in.
Once you have obtained permission, you should include information related to the original owner of the rights in your CD artwork. MCPS required that you display its name on the CD cover to indicate that the product is authorized. Remember to add the P and C symbols on the CD cover that represent protection and copyright.
If you release CDs on your own independent record label you should get an ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) code as well. The ISRC code will help you get your royalties and will serve as an identification that you own the work. In the UK, you just need to become a member of the PPL as a record company. You will be issued a membership number and you can then ask them for your ISRC code. The ISRC code can be encoded into the track at the time of recording.
The legalities are not as complicated as they sound and will go a long way in making sure you can launch your CDs without any glitches.