Copy rights lefts...

Posted: 6/13/2006 7:30:27 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

It seems I'm rarely alone in my curiosity on things. I've been trying to learn more about copyright concerns and thought I'd share what I've learned so far...

To be public domain music must have been published before 1922.

If you record yourself playing along to someone else's recording of a public domain song you must also have permission for use of their recording.

And some good info on live performance and commercial release came from JonB who wrote in another forum thread
"" If the cover version is only being performed live, then you don't need to do anything. The place at which you perform (be it a nightclub or a tv program) is responsible for paying a blanket license to BMI/ASCAP to secure performance rights. If it is being released on a CD, then the company releasing the CD is responsible for contacting Harry Fox (or whoever) to get a mechanical license. ""

Oh, disclaimer, we're not lawyers nor do we play them on TV, just sharing informal info.

Posted: 6/13/2006 9:50:57 AM
Jon B

From: Somerville, MA

Joined: 8/11/2005

I should have said that if it is being released on a CD, then the company releasing the CD [b]should[/b] be responsible for contacting Harry Fox (or whoever) to get a mechanical license. By that, I mean that it's the sort of thing a label [b]should[/b] be taking care of for its artists. For example, my band the Lothars will be appearing on a tribute to Sandinista by the Clash (, and the guy putting the CD together told us he'd take care of getting clearances. I have no idea who is legally liable for damages if the proper licensing does not occur.
Posted: 6/13/2006 10:00:44 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

A good caveat then for self-producers/distributors then is that they'd have to get all the clearences themselves...?
thanks Jon!

This is all new to me, hopefully of interest to others here too.
Posted: 6/13/2006 11:41:51 AM
Jon B

From: Somerville, MA

Joined: 8/11/2005

Correct! If you are self-releasing a CD that contains a cover version of a song not in the public domain, you need to get a "mechanical license". Visit the Harry Fox ( website for more info.
Posted: 6/14/2006 9:39:27 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Thank you JonB., that's a lot of great info.
It's all new to me having only done my own or classical music performance in the past.
And now we have a mention of it here the google box can find and so will others when they come looking.
much appreciated!
Posted: 6/20/2006 10:37:07 AM

From: UK

Joined: 5/16/2006

Copyright is a veeery fuzzy area of the law.

In the UK it is something like this:

There is the mechanical license (for the actual recording) and the publishing license (for what is recorded). The PRS (Performing Rights Society) will collect money for performances (covers, etc.) of the work, and the PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) will take care of the mechanical performance royalties. PRS covers composition royalties, PPL takes care of recording royalties. Generally a CD will have a rim of tiny text going round it. This is a small contract that generally includes something like 'PPL and PRS Paid'. There are other collection agencies, but these are the two biggest (AFAIK!).

Generally speaking (very) venues will have an 'entertainment license' that will cover live music (including covers) for the PRS, and may well have cover for PPL - for things like DJ's. One thing they will be obliged to do is to make a list of all works performed (and generally, they also make a list of who's performed - the tax man wants that!!).

If you want to record a cover (in the UK, certainly), then you need to contact the PRS, or you will be contacted asking for the royalties for the song you have recorded a cover of. But if you recorded it, the mechanical, not the intellectual, copyright is yours.

Also, something to remember, chord sequences CANNOT BE COPRIGHTED! Only melodies, lyrics etc. can be. However, this gets fuzzy - for example, Deep Purple's 'Smoke on the Water' intro - are they chords, or do they as chords constitute a melody? Best to err on the side of caution...

Also, you can use someone else's material free of charge - as long as you only use 1.5 seconds of it.

I hope that clears some bits and bobs up - I'm not a lawyer, nor an expert, but I did get a first in Music Business modules :-D

Have fun.


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