Music copyright- streaming

Copyright matters affecting music and musicians.
Post Reply
Andyroo66
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2022 11:03 am

Music copyright- streaming

Post by Andyroo66 »

Hello
I'm making a cover of a fairly well known rock and roll song from the late 50's
But I've changed the key and genre but still wish to use the original lyrics and song title
I also use audio samples (drum loops) from Splice but gather I am free to use them for commercial purposes
I want to release via CD Baby and my Bandcamp page for Steaming and digital downloads and possibly streaming on Amazing Radio and similar internet radio platforms, I doubt anybody would actually pay for a download but you never know
Just need to make sure I don't infinge the original copyright, I've been reading around and it seems like a minefield of information and contradictions
Hopefully there is a simple procedure I can follow and spend a tenner or so to clear the copyright
Or if I make the song FREE to download/stream then I'm not infringing copyright?
Thanks
User avatar
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle
Posts: 2641
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

Re: Music copyright- streaming

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Andyroo66,

If you are at all interested in the music industry you will surely be aware of how litigous both artists and record labels are if they feel their work has 'been stolen'. Right now in the UK there is a copyright case underway involving allegations that Ed Sheeran copied parts of a song by another artist.

My point in saying this is that you must be very careful to get permission in the form of a licence to use the lyrics and song title, and most probably you will also need permission to use the music as things like key changes are rarely sufficient to remove the likelihood of copying. You need to contact the management of whoever wrote the song for the necessary licence. They may well refer you on to a music publisher who represents their artist/writers. Generally speaking there is little point in speaking to the record label unless you are sure that they have acquired all the rights to the music and lyrics. This will tend not to be the case for more established bands and artists who retain their composition rights and only transfer the rights in the recording to the labels.

Unfortunately, streaming your work for free makes no difference to a claim for copyright infringement.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Andyroo66
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2022 11:03 am

Re: Music copyright- streaming

Post by Andyroo66 »

Thanks AndyJ
I have not changed the key to avoid copyright but more to present the song in a different way
To make it more complicated I have used a bass line from a different song but I'm not sure the bassline itself is copyrightable?
Do you advocate using sites like Easy Song or Harry Fox to clear the copyright?
The more I delve into this the more complicated it gets
The song was released in 1958 so in another 6 years will be OK!?
Thanks
Andy
User avatar
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle
Posts: 2641
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

Re: Music copyright- streaming

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Andy,

Your mention of Easysong and Harry Fox leads me to think you may be based in the USA as they are American organisations. If this is so, then you would be better off getting advice from a US site because music copyright in the USA works somewhat differently to the UK and Europe. So for instance if the song you are interested in was not registered with the US Copyright Office or it was published (as sheet music) without the correct copyright notice, it won't be in copyright now.

Try the Harry Fox Agency first and see what they say about it.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Andyroo66
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2022 11:03 am

Re: Music copyright- streaming

Post by Andyroo66 »

Hi AndyJ
Thanks, actually I'm in UK!
Are there are UK equivalents or does it work differently in UK?
This is where I get confused as with internet streaming it shouldnt matter where I am as the music can potentially be streamed anywhere in the world
Thanks
User avatar
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle
Posts: 2641
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

Re: Music copyright- streaming

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Andy,

Thanks for clarifying where you are based. It's not about how you intend to use the music (whether streaming or Youtube or hard copy sales etc) it's about what copyright regime exists in the country of origin. The USA used to have a completely different copyright law prior to 1976, and this still affects older music. For example, pre-1972 recordings (what the USA call phonograms) are not protected by Federal copyright law which means that in most cases it depends on each individual state's laws as to whether a recording first released in the US is now in copyright or not. In the UK things are somewhat more straightforward.

As for who you should approach, because there are so many music publishers, you are better off approaching the management for the artist or band who first recorded the song if you can't actually find details of the composer(s) of the song itself. You could also try searching for your song through Jaxsta although if the song dates from 1958 I doubt it will be listed there.You could also try PRS for Music but they can't issue a licence for what you want to do, however they may well have details for the music publisher you need to contact.

And going back to something you mentioned in your earlier posting, about whether copyright will cease in 6 years time for a recording released in 1958 - ie 70 years from the first release. All that will happen is that copyright in the recording will have ended, not copyright in the music and lyrics, which will last for the lifetime of the composer(s) plus 70 years from the end of their year of death. Much will depend on the nationality of the composer(s) of the music and lyrics.

I probably don't need to tell you that the music business is incredibly complicated when it comes to intellectual property rights. Possibly one of the best guides for beginners can be found on an old site which is no longer maintained but contains some really useful background information: Bemuso
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Andyroo66
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2022 11:03 am

Re: Music copyright- streaming

Post by Andyroo66 »

Hi

I'm finding this very confusing and the more I delve into it the more confused I get!!!!
I've tried to find the publishers for the song in question and e mailed them but nothing back
it feels like I am going about this all wrong
Basically I'm covering the track (rock and roll song from 1958) but although the title, song structure and lyrics are the same the style of the song is totally different.
I gather in UK I don't need a license for a cover? But I have seen on other sites that if the arrangement is different would need a license?
Also web platforms like Spotify have their own arrangements for clearance?
Basically I don't want to go to the effort of releasing the song and then face a copyright claim!

Thanks
User avatar
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle
Posts: 2641
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

Re: Music copyright- streaming

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Andy,

I'm not sure where you heard that you don't need permission to do a cover of a copyright song, but I'm afraid that's not correct. If you write different music then you may not need permission for that part, but you would still need permission to perform the lyrics (see section 19 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988). The same would apply if, instead of performing the song live in public, you wanted to make a recording of your performance of the song. However if your music is fundamentally the same melody as the original and you just wanted to change something like the key, tempo or the beat, then that would probably also need permission as it would be an adaptation of the original music.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Post Reply