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Doing a cover of a song, what are the legalities?
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Author Doing a cover of a song, what are the legalities?
rustyjaw
Hi all, I hope this is the appropriate place for this topic.

I am in the midst of a patch on my eurorack system that is a cover of an ambient track that I love. It's called "Out of Nothing" by O Yuki Conjugate...off their 1992 album "Undercurrents (In Dark Water)" - an album that is probably my top 5 listens in the 90s.

I'm nearing the point where I feel like it's worth recording, but I'm not sure what the legal territory is like for this kind of work. I've never done a cover before. Do I need the original artists permission to post the audio of the cover? What if it's free and not for sale? What if it's just a video on YouTube of the performance?

O Yuki Conjugate have a current website with contact info, I've considered contacting them to ask. But as of now I don't have a good recording of my version. I feel like I want to have something I'm happy with in case they wish to hear it.
GuyaGuy
In the US you need a mechanical license from the copyright holder to distribute a cover version and a sync license for video. Many publishers already have deals with YT to scrape off their license fee so YTers don't have to ask for permissions.

And in reality not many publishers or artists go after non-monetized covers.
sparood
Well it seems like you have two options. 1) Contact the artist, what you already seems like you are doing or 2) not contact the artist.

I don't know who O Yuki Conjugate is or how big they are, but if it's a smaller artist they likely will be happy to get some extra (free) promotion out of it and if they are big than they might ask for money or royalties. Or if they are dicks.

But a more adequate question is, what are you going yo do with the cover. Are you going to use it in a commercial setting (i.e. selling the song, create YouTube revenue, use it on an album) or are you just creating it without any commercial aspect? In the latter is the case, don't worry on getting sued because labels nor bands are going to pluck from a moneyless tree, it's not worth it.

Not contacting the artist would mean...likely they will never hear your sounds and if they do...see my answer above.
rustyjaw
Thanks for the replies. OYC is not a big name band, but they’ve been around since the 80s and have a number of releases all the way up to last year. All of their music is ambient and instrumental (as far as I know), I assume that music with lyrics is more complicated.

In any event, I’m not going to post it for money, even so I’d like to at least inform the artist of the project.
Kid Narco
Remember the old music biz adage; where there's a hit, there's a writ.
Joe.
GuyaGuy wrote:
Many publishers already have deals with YT to scrape off their license fee so YTers don't have to ask for permissions.


Do you know if there's any specific format you need to name the Youtube video, to make it clear it's a cover?

In the video title, or the video description etc.




.
GuyaGuy
Joe. wrote:
GuyaGuy wrote:
Many publishers already have deals with YT to scrape off their license fee so YTers don't have to ask for permissions.


Do you know if there's any specific format you need to name the Youtube video, to make it clear it's a cover?

In the video title, or the video description etc.




.

Looks like this (ahem) covers it:
https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/3301938?hl=en
kindredlost
I’m just n no way an expert on the subject but I can relay some experiences.

One video cover on YT garnered me a flag from a more famous electronic music soundtrack artist (well, her legal team that is) by just introducing a portion of a melodic phrase. The artists tort actions are well known.

Another cover I made a video of is almost exact and is the entire song but the artists involved had no interest in preventing it.

Both instances were NOT monetized and both instances included a link for the artists web presence and encouraged the viewer to purchase their market items.

So it seems like a very grey area for sure.

To be honorable, I’d suggest you seek permission and or even do due diligence to find and purchase the publishing permission. I did this on a cover piece of a fairly obscure tune and bought a license to release the piece for a radio show. It still costs me to this day a decade or so later because the show is still up on the web for listening I think. I haven’t checked in a while.

At the very least you should promote the artists as much as you can within the video cover. Respect is due!
rustyjaw
Well I sent OYC an email today, we'll see what they say (if anything). I haven't yet gotten a recording I like, but I'm close.
rustyjaw
So I heard back from one of the members of OYC (the email CCed the other main member) and he was very supportive of the cover

Quote:
Thanks for your mail
We’re fascinated to hear your cover version. Please send it over.
Of course you are free to do what you like as long as we’re credited as writers.


It so happened I had just recorded it shortly before getting their reply, so I uploaded an MP3 to my website and they both replied separately with very kind responses.

A nice outcome!

(I shot a video of the 'performance' which I will post to YouTube when I have time to sync the recorded audio to the video.)[/quote]
wackelpeter
Had something similar some days ago...

Was experimenting with some shortwave Radio running through my modular and then thought let's try it with Burroughs and took some recordings of Naked Lunch read by Burrroughs himself through my Setup...

sounded cool so i thought i may upload this to my soundcloud, without download Option and for non-Commercial purposes... but then i ended up not uploading it, because i feared that some lawyers would sue me...


BTW. bought last year the impressive OYC box on Vinyl on Demand... still regret that i sold the 1st LP together with a lot of other pearls nearly 15 years ago when i sold a big portion of my record collection...
rustyjaw
wackelpeter wrote:
BTW. bought last year the impressive OYC box on Vinyl on Demand... still regret that i sold the 1st LP together with a lot of other pearls nearly 15 years ago when i sold a big portion of my record collection...


Hey, another OYC fan! :-) I haven't had a record player in eons, but that would be a cool set of vinyl to have.

When I was looking for their contact info, I stumbled on the limited edition (of 300) CD of "Tropic" which is recordings from the sessions that "Equator" was recorded from. I snagged one as there were only 3 left (now it says 1), still waiting for it in the mail.

While not as collectible as vinyl, my CD of "Undercurrents" is I believe from the first edition imported from the Netherlands, it has a lenticular cover.
rustyjaw
For anyone curious, here is my cover of "Out of Nothing"



And I just saw that Roger Horberry from OYC commented on the video :-)

also, there are some basic patch notes on the video page.
GuyaGuy
I don't know the original (yet) but this is very nice. thumbs up
rustyjaw
GuyaGuy wrote:
I don't know the original (yet) but this is very nice. thumbs up


Thanks a lot!

Here is the original:
Pelsea
This is a standard lecture I used to give to all of my students.

There is nothing more confusing than US copyright laws. (Except possibly grounding, which I may comment on one of these days.)

If you are a creator, you have copyright in the creation the minute it takes physical form. You mark your territory with the US copyright symbol ©. (Also your name and date). Now you and/or your descendants own the creation until 70 years after your death.

You can register your copyright with the US government if you like, but it is not compulsory. However, registration will help you enforce your copyright if that becomes necessary.

If you want to distribute a cover of a work someone else has copyrighted, you owe them money under "statutory license". This used to be simple, a few cents per track of albums distributed (not sold). This is no longer simple-- there are different rates for downloads, streaming and other distribution methods. There's a good explination on the Harry Fox agency website (who, by the way, will be happy to manage the whole process for you.) https://www.harryfox.com/license_music/what_is_mechanical_license.html

International copyrights are even more complex, since they depend on individual treaties between countries, and are all generally the same except (insert variations here).

Adding your music to video gets more complex yet. Lawyers are required. Although YouTube got into so much trouble over members posting copyright material that they negotiated bulk deals that will cover you on their platform. (Or not, then it gets taken down.)

The lecture goes to to examples like "Oom Papa Mau mau", Vanilla Ice, and others.
wackelpeter
Pelsea wrote:
This is a standard lecture I used to give to all of my students.

There is nothing more confusing than US copyright laws. (Except possibly grounding, which I may comment on one of these days.)

If you are a creator, you have copyright in the creation the minute it takes physical form. You mark your territory with the US copyright symbol ©. (Also your name and date). Now you and/or your descendants own the creation until 70 years after your death.

You can register your copyright with the US government if you like, but it is not compulsory. However, registration will help you enforce your copyright if that becomes necessary.

If you want to distribute a cover of a work someone else has copyrighted, you owe them money under "statutory license". This used to be simple, a few cents per track of albums distributed (not sold). This is no longer simple-- there are different rates for downloads, streaming and other distribution methods. There's a good explination on the Harry Fox agency website (who, by the way, will be happy to manage the whole process for you.) https://www.harryfox.com/license_music/what_is_mechanical_license.html

International copyrights are even more complex, since they depend on individual treaties between countries, and are all generally the same except (insert variations here).

Adding your music to video gets more complex yet. Lawyers are required. Although YouTube got into so much trouble over members posting copyright material that they negotiated bulk deals that will cover you on their platform. (Or not, then it gets taken down.)

The lecture goes to to examples like "Oom Papa Mau mau", Vanilla Ice, and others.


Do you have an idea how it would work out if i say for example upload a track where i use some recording of W.S.Burroughs reading from one of his books to put it through my modular and manipulate it. For example i would like to upload this to soundcloud and disable the download Option, stating that this is for non-commercial purpose. My guess was, htat when the lecture would be accessible publicy through my recording (even if most of the original for some parts would be not much understandable as it's heavily treated) i would infringe Copyrights by some form of quasi public Broadcasting. I am getting this correct and would have to ask the publisher or whoever holds the Copyrights before doing this?
diophantine
rustyjaw
Nice work! Sounds great!

I hadn't seen this thread before, but as soon as I opened it & saw OYC I knew you'd be good, and happy to hear that they've given their blessing & more. I haven't played "Into Dark Water" in a few years, maybe I can fix that tonight... "Peyote" is my "go-to" album of theirs, and it gets played relatively often.
mt3
Might not answer any questions, but could provide some insights:

https://www.pyramind.com/training/blog/2013/07/15/how-to-make-money-on -youtube-with-your-music-jeff-price-video-recap



Parts 2 and 3 can be viewed at the link.
Dilibob
This thread prompted me to listen to O Yuki Conjugate recent album "Tropic", it's a total killer album. Kind of reminds me of sitting on a boat looking/listening to a ghost procession cross a levi.
cretaceousear
Never heard of OYC - kind of similar teriritory to the Moebius /Roedelius collaborations. I like your version better ! Great stuff.

You might like this too: https://jojohnson.bandcamp.com/album/weaving-2

I did a cut up chainsaw massacre of a 50's hit and put it on Soundcloud - no one's sued - then again no one's listened hihi
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