Copyright questions

Oh my

Enough! or Too much
The original song pisses all over the newer bastardised version. What do Moz & Marr think of their iconic song being used to advertise a TV show about the 'royals'? Do they get paid? And is it worth it if they do.

This post by Acton made me ask myself a lot of questions about copyrights. Probably the musicians know the answers:

1) If a band wants to play or record a cover, does this band need the permission of the original composer (i.e, another band or some members of another band)?

2) If no permission is needed, is a band able to FORBID another band from playing a song by them? (i.e, is Morrissey able to tell the band "The Trumpeters" that he does not give his permission to play a cover of one of his songs?)

3) If no permission is needed, does the use of the COVER VERSION of a song for a TV show or an advert need the explicit permission of the original authors? (i.e, The producers of "The Royals", do they need the permission of The Smiths if they want to use a COVER VERSION of "How Soon is Now?" by the band GA?).

4) Is a band able to FORBID the use of covers composed by them in a movie or TV show? (I remembers the case of the movie "Velvet Goldmine"... I remember that Bowie didn't allow the producers to feature covers of his songs, so the "Bowie" of the movie ended up singing songs by Roxy Music instead).
 

Fake C

Active Member
These are good questions but there isn't one answer to them.
There are lots of things involved. Sometimes the music is owned by the writers and the publishers. Sometimes just the publishers own it. I'm talking about the rights to the song.
Then there is the performance.
Recently Taylor Swift is in the news trying to regain control of her music. She owns a part of the publishing but she does not own her masters, so sh does not own the performance. When her masters were sold last year that meant that someone else gets money when the actual performance, the song as it appears on her record, is used.
She is rerecording all of her old albums and is going to attempt to convince people to stream these on services like Spotify. This will entitle her to the performance fees as well as the songwriting fees.

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne had some difficulties with people that played on his first two solo records. The performers wanted to be paid their performance royalties. To get around this it was arranged that new musicians were hired to play the parts and the records were reconstructed using the old tracks but replacing two band members. This way they could continue to sell these records without paying the performance fees to the band members they were having legal disputes with.

Anyway those are just a couple of examples. But every contract is different. David Bowie must own his performance rights or had sufficient leverage with the people who do to prevent his recordings being used in Velvet Goldmine. Maybe it's just because he owns the publishing for the songwriting he could block it. If he didn't they could have made a deal with the publishers and the owners of the actual sound recordings and he couldn't stop it.

Frank Zappa and Prince are two musicians who wrote their own songs and owned their masters. It was only after Prince died that his music appeared on youtube. Before that you could hear his cover of Creep by Radiohead performed live. He probably couldn't stop that because he doesn't own the song and it wasn't from a released record. I believe the recording was from a concert that was broadcast live so he would have signed some sort of contract allowing that particular performance to be broadcast.
They couldn't use the whole thing because he owns the songs and could stop it. But because he didn't own the Radiohead song and had allowed the concert to be broadcast that meant he couldn't remove it from youtube.

You would probably have to look at each individual case. If a band owns everything they have total control but as they own less they lose control.

There is a music theory channel on youtube that I watch. He talks about lots of popular songs. When he uses The Beatles as an example he uses recordings that are meant to sound exactly like the original records but you can tell it's not. The voice is very close but it's not The Beatles. This means that The Beatles don't control their publishing but they do control the performance. Youtube videos are "monetized" meaning this guy gets paid when people watch his videos. He can't use the original recordings because either The Beatles representatives don't allow it or because the fees are too high.

Every case would be different and fall into one of a few categories. Some artists have no control and don't get paid because they sold their rights long ago. Others have total control and there are different categories in between these extremes.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
I don't know much about copyright but I remember Johnny getting quite a bit of shit for the cover of "Please, Please, Please..." in the John Lewis Christmas advert years ago. He said that he allowed it so I'm guessing they do need permission?
 

Cornflakes

"A bit iffy" ★★☆☆☆ - AV Club
This post by Acton made me ask myself a lot of questions about copyrights. Probably the musicians know the answers:

1) If a band wants to play or record a cover, does this band need the permission of the original composer (i.e, another band or some members of another band)?

2) If no permission is needed, is a band able to FORBID another band from playing a song by them? (i.e, is Morrissey able to tell the band "The Trumpeters" that he does not give his permission to play a cover of one of his songs?)

3) If no permission is needed, does the use of the COVER VERSION of a song for a TV show or an advert need the explicit permission of the original authors? (i.e, The producers of "The Royals", do they need the permission of The Smiths if they want to use a COVER VERSION of "How Soon is Now?" by the band GA?).

4) Is a band able to FORBID the use of covers composed by them in a movie or TV show? (I remembers the case of the movie "Velvet Goldmine"... I remember that Bowie didn't allow the producers to feature covers of his songs, so the "Bowie" of the movie ended up singing songs by Roxy Music instead).
Generally speaking...

1) No, although if money is involved, they should pay royalties

2) No.

3) Yes/no. Permission is needed from whoever owns the relevant rights. This is often the songwriters/composers, but it might not be if they have sold the relevant rights to someone else.

4) Yes/no. As in (3).
 

butley

Well-Known Member
You have to ask permission if you record a cover version from whoever owns the rights to the song if you intend to sell it.

 

Oh my

Enough! or Too much
Generally speaking...

1) No, although if money is involved, they should pay royalties

2) No.

3) Yes/no. Permission is needed from whoever owns the relevant rights. This is often the songwriters/composers, but it might not be if they have sold the relevant rights to someone else.

4) Yes/no. As in (3).

Thank you, that was helpful!
 
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