Recording Legalities

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by ARA punk, May 30, 2002.

  1. ARA punk

    ARA punk

    Jul 11, 2001
    USA, Shelby, NC
    I wasnt sure where to put this. I figured that since it involved the legalities it would be off topic.

    My band was wanting to record some stuff. We havent had too much time to get together and write, so we were just going to record covers. Just to have something for owners of various establishments to listen to. What kinda legalities are involved? Would we just simply need to cite the original artist, or do we actually need thier permission. Thanks alot guys.
  2. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I think you would get more responses in MISCELLANEOUS, as it is music-related. I personally do not know the answer to your question. Any time I have recorded cover songs, it's been for the purposes of demo, not profit. I would imagine if you're planning on selling these CDs for profit, you would need to pay royalties, (it is only fair to the artist, right?). If you're planning on using this only to book gigs, then I imagine the law is more "lax".
  3. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    If you want to know the strictly legal side of it, here it goes. Whether you sell the product, give it away, or anything in between, copyright laws are copyright laws. If you want to record another artist's work, you must pay royalties, regardless of how many copies, your intent, or how much money (or any) you make.

    That's the legal issue.
  4. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    You need to pay a mechanical license fee to the original composers. That's it. This can be done (often) through the Harry Fox Agency.

    If the composers haven't signed up with Harry Fox, a little detective work may be in order.

    You don't have to pay the original artists anything or give them any recognition, unless they also happen to be the composers.
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Absolutely true. Sorry for being unclear.
  6. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    For the record, the statutory mechanical royalty rate is 7.5 cents per copy... in other words, if you plan to press 500 copies, that'll be $37.50 per cover song on the cd.

    I can pass on a bit of helpful info here... The Harry Fox Agency site mentioned above (we accessed it at ) may not have everything you need to license. I recently ran into this situation and had to do the "detective work". This consisted of tracking down the original songwriter, and who owns the publishing can usually find all this on the original artist's cd liner notes, etc.

    Once you have the publisher's name, you might have to track down their address to request the license. I found a couple of really tough ones in the BMI database, which can be accessed on their website:

    Good luck! You never know what can happen a result of having to go through this search, I've corresponded with some pretty famous songwriters and almost every one of them offered to let me hear unreleased and unrecorded tunes for our band to consider on future recordings.
  7. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    One more point. After a song has been published once--and commercial release of a song counts as publishing--you don't need the composer's permission to cover it. But, as has been stated, if you cover it, you have to pay mechanical royalties. Your options are only two: (1) cover the song and pay royalties or (2) pay no royalties and don't cover the song.

    Practically speaking, though Pacman and the other folks are absolutely right about the strict legal view, if you're only gonna make 5 copies and use them only to get gigs at local clubs, I doubt if anyone's going to hunt you down and beat you up. But any time larger-scale production or commerce enters the picture, it's best to go by the book IMO.
  8. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    While we're on the subject of this, doesn't a copyright for a song remain for the life of the composer and then 50 years after their death, then it becomes public domain? I'm I correct?
  9. Corwin81


    Mar 18, 2003
    Ames, IA
    I know this is an old thread, but relates to a question I had.

    If I were to record bootlegs of my band's shows and we're planning on playing a cover during each show(random ones we pick) and thought of posting a "mp3 of the week" type thing and some of them will be covers. Would that be legal? We wouldn't be making any money from it. Just something to keep fans coming to the site.
  10. You can find all the answers to your questions at.......

    Established in 1927 by the National Music Publishers Association, The Harry Fox Agency, Inc. represents over 27,000 U.S. music publishers for their mechanical licensing needs, issuing licenses and collecting and distributing royalties. HFA also provides collection and monitoring services to its U.S. publisher clients for music distributed and sold in over 90 territories around the world.

    If you have any other question's PM me, I can help you!