A Notice of Intent (NOI) is a formal legal document that is used in the music industry to inform a copyright owner that an entity intends to use the owner’s copyrighted material. Often, this is used when someone plans to release a cover of a song, also known as a mechanical license for cover songs.
Under U.S. copyright law, anyone can cover and distribute a song that has already been publicly released, as long as they pay the statutory mechanical royalty rate to the songwriter or the songwriter’s representative. Before they can do this, however, they must send an NOI to the copyright owner, giving them notice of their intent to use the song.
For example, if an artist wants to record a cover of a song written by another artist and sell it, they would first send an NOI to the songwriter or their publisher. This notice informs the copyright holder that the artist intends to use their song, and commits the artist to paying the statutory mechanical royalty rate for each copy made.
As always, when dealing with legal matters in the music industry, it’s a good idea to consult with a qualified music attorney or rights management professional.
For more extensive information, you might visit the Mechanical Licensing page on Wikipedia, which includes a discussion of the NOI process.