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Is this illegal?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by crow01, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. crow01


    Sep 1, 2008
    I got offered to play cover songs with different lyrics, written by the singer.

    Play them live.

    Maybe produce a record.

    Say for example "I'm a creep" by Radiohead, with some other lyrics but same music, maybe changing the tempo or different style, say reggae.

    Would I get sued or do I have to pay royalties to somebody?
  2. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Lake Havasu City, AZ
    You can play anything you want live, and never worry about copyright infringement.

    You can also record it to make a demo for the purposes of getting live gigs without worrying about copyright infringement.

    But making a record of it and selling the recordings? That's a no-no without obtaining authority.
  3. I think it depends too, on whether or not it's a parody, such as what Weird Al does.
  4. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Lake Havasu City, AZ
    Yep. Weird Al has to obtain authority because he uses music written by other people in his recordings for monetary gain.
  5. he didnt obtain the rights for amish paradise i thought. isnt that why coolio was mad at him?
  6. and look at vanialla ice. he put a sixteenth note in and it was "completely" different
  7. BUT, if I understand it correctly, Weird Al also gets a co-writing credit because they're new lyrics. Very clever way to get a few royalty $'s
  8. Muaguana


    Jul 28, 2009
    If you're referring to "Ice Ice Baby," he ended up getting sued for that.
  9. I thought parodies are covered under fair use guidelines? It's kinda funny that Cololio would not have given Wierd Al his consent as Coolio sampled the chorus and music of the song "Pastime Paradise" by Stevie Wonder (with Wonder's consent.)
  10. crow01


    Sep 1, 2008
    What about all of these bands that play covers:
    - Eminem and that aerosmith song
    - However many bands have the cure songs on produced albums...
    - 311 (The Cure I will always love you) Same song but in reggae
    - Faith by Limp biskit (same song, different style)
    - Sinead o connor nothing compares to you. Her most famous song, not written by her.

    - No problem I think. Been in cover bands, but never thought about it

    - I am asking for trouble, even if it's a parody, or different style of the song?

    Demo to get gigs:
    - What if fans ask to buy the songs...You have to say...emm nope? Or can they just download them for free? I wonder how that is.
  11. Mrdak

    Mrdak uber bass geek baby!

    Feb 1, 2006
    Middle GA
    Playing the songs live.........I think not. Produce a record? try to make a dime off of it? Yes :bassist:
  12. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Lake Havasu City, AZ
    BINGO! That's the key. If you are trying to sell the recordings, and if those recordings that you are trying to sell contain music or lyrics that were written by others, then you are in violation of copyright laws.

    Using a "demo" recording of your band just to get live gigs is not selling the recordings.
  13. Eminem, 311, Limp Bizkit, etc. are all required to get the OK from whoever owns the rights to the songs. I think I recall reading somewhere that Robert Smith worked with 311 on their version of "Lovesong" for the soundtrack to 50 First Dates...311 got involved in the soundtrack because Adam Sandler attended one of their shows and hung out with the band. He wanted the soundtrack for the movie to include many songs from the '80s that he grew up with, redone in a tropical style since the movie takes place in Hawaii.
  14. Beersurgeon


    Jul 16, 2010
    Weird Al stated that Coolio was upset at him for using his song but was happy to receive the checks for the rights...
  15. NateS


    Sep 22, 2009
    Richmond, VA, USA
    you can play live whatever the hell you want. you can record as well, as long as you don't make a profit.

    you do not need authorization for a parody! Weird al does that to be nice, as he has said in interviews. Remember the James Blunt cover that atlantic tried to block? Did they? no..because weird al was being nice to ask to begin with (and it wasn't atlantic's call, it as james blunts, but whatever
  16. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Copyright Law is tricky, but I believe that to use someone's song one has to pay for it, but the holder of the copyright cannot deny use to anyone. Compulsory licensing I believe is what it is called, but IANAL. I have heard that political campaigns have enraged some musicians by using their material when the artists did not agree with the ideology of the politicians involved, but they couldn't be prevented from using it as long as they paid for it.
  17. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    It's not a problem recording/selling a song written by another songwriter, or performed by another band - as long as you have an agreement with the owner of the song (publishing), which most likely includes monetary payment (typically royalties).

    Otherwise, if you have success with it, you also get a lawsuit. Even if you' don't copy the song completely, or even if you don't do it consciously.
    Remember George Harrison's song "My Sweet Lord"? He got sued and it was determined that it was a ripoff of the Chiffon's "He's So Fine" - George was ordered to pay some pretty big dinero.

    As Smitty Smith once said to me, "remember the most important thing in life... Publishing".
  18. NateS


    Sep 22, 2009
    Richmond, VA, USA
    it's not a problem playing a song...at all.

    it's a problem recording a song.
  19. Not trying to nitpick, but I'm not sure one is necessarily required to pay to use someone elses song...as long as whoever owns the rights to the original gives the ok. Just sayin'

    no problem in recording the song, but selling that recording is where it gets sticky.
  20. Hotrodmick


    Dec 7, 2009
    Look in to Harry Fox and Ass- Cap. It cost about 10cents a song per C/D if the original song writer says it is OK.

    Now if it is just the cord progression, different beat, different timing, look at G C D. Play it and see if anyone notices it as the original song.

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