What are the legalities of releasing cover songs?

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alongwaltz
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What are the legalities of releasing cover songs?

Post by alongwaltz » Sun Nov 04, 2012 18:25

For instance: a friend of mine wants to include a Smiths cover on her EP.

Are we legally allowed to? Do we just have to credit Morrissey/Marr? Do we owe them royalties? Do we need permission?

fika_recordings
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Re: What are the legalities of releasing cover songs?

Post by fika_recordings » Wed Nov 07, 2012 20:40

You'll definitely need to acknowledge who the writers (lyrics, composition, etc) of the song are. And you'll definitely have to pay them [mechanical] royalties. I'm not quite sure whether or not you need express permission to do so (in fact, I'm fairly sure that you don't, in so far as you can release a cover by anyone so long as you've everything in order for royalties to flow to the authors).
Having said that, when I put out the Tigercats cover of Fleetwood Mac, I did go to the publisher of the song and ensure they had no objections.
You won't be able to do things like print the lyrics in the booklet for a cover song without being licensed to do so though.

Get in touch with MCPS/PRS Music, they're generally a bit clueless but eventually quite helpful.
http://www.prsformusic.com/creators/mem ... /MCPS.aspx
They don't have a publically searchable database of songs and who the publisher/accredited writers are, mainly because their system is a bit of a mess (or so I'm told...). But they will search for you if you ask. If you're in the USA check with Harry Fox. If you're releasing stuff digitally and worldwide, you might need to check across a bunch of publishers (different companies may own the same song for different territories).

Some of that might be helpful. It's been a while since I've looked at it and I've got a mind like a sieve with a massive hole in the middle.
fika recordings // a diy indiepop cassette label // http://fikarecordings.com

fika_recordings
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Re: What are the legalities of releasing cover songs?

Post by fika_recordings » Wed Nov 07, 2012 20:44

(If you're making a bunch of CDRs to give out to friends, the above is what you're legally responsible to do but I'd be surprised if Universal Music Publishing came banging on your door to claim the couple of quid of royalties owed)
fika recordings // a diy indiepop cassette label // http://fikarecordings.com

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