Laws on doing a cover of a song and recording.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by odie, Nov 15, 2003.

  1. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    What are the legalities for recording and releasing a cover on a local level??

    What about a small regional/Indie level.

    How about a national level?
  2. hyperlitem

    hyperlitem Guest

    Jul 25, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    its illegal unless done for non-for profit. If your not selling it you can get away with it maybe. If you are selling it your taking your chances as to whether the artist will find out i suppose. It is illegal is you are not paying royalties or even permission to play said persons song.
  3. Samurai


    Sep 13, 2003
    I think it is basically about paying the owner of the copyright. If you are doing it on the local level and sell it, that probably won't matter because no one will probably ever find out. However if you had it on an album and it got really big, that could get you in to trouble.

    I am pretty sure this happened with the band Slipknot (although I am not a fan and don't follow them), but it think I remember hearing about them getting in trouble for covering a song on their first album. They had no idea they were gonna make it and suddenly they got extremely popular and got in to some legal trouble and reprinted the CD without that song on it.
  4. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    It's "technically" illegal even if you play it at a gig, although there have been some promising interpretations under the "fair use" laws. You're supposed to pay royalties to the composer, and if anyone from ASCAP/BMI happens to be around, they might even log a violation. But as with any law, there are ways around it. For example, if you can get away with doing a "parody" of someone else's song you're home free. In some cases a parody could just be changing a single note in the song to make it sound like another song. Depends on the context. In any case, I couldn't afford a lawsuit, couldn't afford to pay the lawyers. Best to be careful.
  5. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    The club pays ASCAP/BMI, not the band. If it's a recording, then you want to pay royalties.
  6. I think playing other people's songs is fine, as long as you're not making money. if it were illegal to play other people's songs, sheet music would be illegal. if you're playing a paying gig and you play a cover, then you're making money for someone else's work, and you can get in trouble.

    a friend of mine had a job playing weekly at a cafe, and had problems from the establishment because she was playing mostly covers and getting paid.
  7. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    It is not illegal, nor do you need permission. All you have to do is pay the royalties, that's it. Even if the writer hates your version of it, there's nothing that they can do about it, as long as the royalties are paid. Trust me, I've been there. BTW, parodies do not need to be done at home. Ronnie Milsap's estate sued us for writing a somewhat comical version of "Oh Pretty Woman", and they lost. The judge said that parodies were NOT covered under copyright infringement laws. Like I said, I've been there! :)
  8. hanales


    Jul 12, 2003
    Youngstown, OH
    My old band did a side project called troublemint.

    We did some research before we posted anything, and have had no problems. We released everything for free, and not a single complaint.



    Aug 30, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Copywrite laws last 28 years. This is one reason you hear so many oldies played in commercials now a days. No royalties. Business Law 101
  10. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    A local singer that my guitarist knows researched this when he recorded an album of covers.

    If you print less than 1000 copies, you are fine. If you print over 1000, you need to secure(pay for) copyright permission for each song.
  11. Fleckbass211


    Mar 20, 2003
    My Room
    Heres an odd but true story. A local band and the bar they played in around me were fined 50 grand a few years ago for covering another bands songs. Pretty wierd....
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    There is a lot of BAD information in this thread. Let me address some of it:

    You CAN cover a song on a recording if you secure persmission for it (which translates into paying royalties, or arranging for permissions - we do this all the time in the military). The Harry Fox agency handles this in most cases.

    It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with if you plan to sell a recording or how many copies you plan to distribute, if you record a song without permission, you are in violation of copyright laws.

    Copyright laws last untill the are changed or repealed.

    Copyrights last for the composer's life plus 50 years. Nostalgia plays more into why you hear covers than copyright laws.
  13. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    It actually isn't really permission, for most songs that are covered, because it can't be withheld if certain provisions are met (e.g., paying the rate). What it is is a mechanical license. Woodchuck is right. Once a song has been recorded, a copyright owner *has* to grant a mechanical license to anyone who wants to use the song in a "phonorecord" if that someone pays the going rate. There's no choice involved and thus no real "permission." The copyright owner CANNOT refuse to grant a mechanical license if the person who wants to record the song does what he or she is supposed to do. Thus, if Pat Boone wants to record a James Hetfield song off "And Justice for All," Hetfield can't stop him if Boone's record company pays the licensing fee.