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FDP Forum / Tin Pan Alley - Songwriting / Cover songs and copyright permissions



Jan 22nd, 2013 06:07 PM   Edit   Profile  

I have a couple of cover songs that I have recorded. So far they are just for me and have not been circulated.

I'd like to put them on my web site (in work), only for listening purposes. I do not plan on selling them. It's sort of the same thing that I see by the thousands on Youtube, with people doing covers of other songs.

What do I need to do to avoid stepping into copyright and licensing doo-doo? And if you recommend something, do you have any personal experience with this subject?

Thanks in advance.


Central NY

Jan 23rd, 2013 05:11 PM   Edit   Profile  

My understanding is that if you aren't earning any money by playing the songs, then you don't owe any royalties.


Crozet, VA

I'm "Branded"-- my stars are ripped away
Jan 23rd, 2013 05:43 PM   Edit   Profile  

Your understanding is incorrect. Earning money has nothing to do with obtaining mechanical rights to "copy" a song. Sorry, but that is some really bad info.

Even internet-only listening has rules covering playing copyrighted material. I think the Harry Fox Agency handles that sort of stuff.

Of course, the chances of you getting into any trouble are pretty small, too -- but you never know.

" Do I Need a Mechanical License?
If you are manufacturing and distributing copies of a song which you did not write, and you have not already reached an agreement with the song's publisher, you need to obtain a mechanical license. This is required under U.S. Copyright Law, regardless of whether or not you are selling the copies that you made." --- HFA

Harry Fox

(This message was last edited by kve at 05:44 PM, Jan 23rd, 2013)



Jan 25th, 2013 09:14 AM   Edit   Profile  

kve: Thanks for responding.

I would agree with you that the law and/or HF says that you need to get a license. However, practicality also tells me that all of the thousands of recordings/web sites/YT videos out there do not or have not obtained licenses. Therefore, I am looking for actual first hand experience with this.

Do you know of anyone who has done this or attempted to do it?

Have you ever known anyone who got in trouble for recording a cover?

Have you ever went to HF and tried to find out who owns a specific song? I did, one time, and have not been back since. It can be very frustrating and a waste of time.

Thanks in advance.


Crozet, VA

I'm "Branded"-- my stars are ripped away
Jan 25th, 2013 10:37 AM   Edit   Profile  

"What do I need to do to avoid stepping into copyright and licensing doo-doo?"

Ha, ha -- that is question I tried to answer. If your real question was "Can I post a copyrighted cover song and get away with it?", then I would have to say that the answer is probably a big "Yes".

Having said that, you will probably become a test case and be made an example of. When you break a law that is broken all the time, it still doesn't make it legal.

(This message was last edited by kve at 10:39 AM, Jan 25th, 2013)



Jan 26th, 2013 07:56 AM   Edit   Profile  

kve: Do you have any personal experience in situations like this?

Thanks in advance.


Crozet, VA

I'm "Branded"-- my stars are ripped away
Jan 27th, 2013 05:30 AM   Edit   Profile  

"kve: Do you have any personal experience in situations like this?'

Absolutely -- I've listened to lots of covers on the internet.

Edit: Testing password reset.

(This message was last edited by kve at 06:16 PM, Feb 16th, 2013)



Jan 28th, 2013 09:11 AM   Edit   Profile  

kve: Thanks for all of the technical info you provided.

However, to answer my last question, it appears that you have no first hand actual experience with this subject (licensing and copyright permissions).


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Mar 1st, 2013 02:42 PM   Edit   Profile  

Videos get pulled all the time from YouTube for copyright reasons. But generally, it's when people make copies of actual commercial releases and put them up. Usually, you're not going to run into much trouble, as long as it's not being sold or you don't have to pay to see/hear the video, and you're not being deceitful about who is performing. If the video sounds professionally recorded and mixed, then that may raise a red flag that you intend to sell it.

The search engines for YT and other sites are very sophisticated. Not only do they search for keywords, like names or titles, but can also compare audio wave forms, looking for illegal copies.

There are hot-button artists who do get searched and pulled more often than others (see: Metallica), so be aware of that as well.



Official Brew Master of Clamfest
Mar 21st, 2013 06:15 PM   Edit   Profile  

My youtube experience is homemade videos with copyrighted music get scanned on upload and you get an email in under 5 min that the video may contain copywrited music. They have some very sophisticated software as gdw3 stated.

It floored me to have a video of my camping trip with ambient music playing in the background get pulled. You get an opportunity to challenge and I did by stating I am using it under "fair use", I am not making any money, its for educational purposes only and I dont participate in the YouTube program that gets me money for X ammount of views. I also use the "fair use- its not my music and for educational purposes only" in the notes of the video that apear below the video

I post band videos & FDP jam videos and with the above wording YouTube allows it. Not surehow truely legal it is but it works for me

(This message was last edited by gmanNJ at 08:17 PM, Mar 21st, 2013)



Mar 23rd, 2013 09:51 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks for continuing the discussion.

My covers would not be going on YT. They would be going on a web site (probably Broadjam). I would not be selling the cover songs, only "displaying" them (for lack of a better term) for listening only.


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
May 6th, 2013 12:22 PM   Edit   Profile  

You should be fine.

Mick Reid
Contributing Member


American-made in Oz!!
Jul 30th, 2013 07:16 PM   Edit   Profile  

There's possibly another perspective to consider...

When you pay for a mechanical license, think of it as the writer is getting paid for their craft.

I've recorded several albums over the last decade and have included a few covers on them.
Yes, they have been recorded for the purposes of sale, but even if they were going to be "friends & family" distributed, I would feel obligated to pay for the licensing. Out of respect for the creator/artist if nothing else.

I reckon if one of my songs was ever covered, (hasn't happened yet!) I would appreciate that the covering artist thought enough of my work to pay for the right to use it.

Just my 2 cents worth...

FDP Forum / Tin Pan Alley - Songwriting / Cover songs and copyright permissions

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