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#1169459 - 09/22/20 11:01 PM Copyright/covers  
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Fdemetrio Online content
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Hey, does anybody know the rules/laws on covers. I found an outtake of a Springsteen song, shocker I know, but the chorus fits what I'm trying to do very much so and I'd like to take a shot at rewriting the verses, cause they dont fit as well, plus its a really good song that most haven't heard.

Do you need permission, or are you covered paying a licensing fee?

Guess I'm asking how much can you change it? I guess nobody will really hear it anyway, but just for arguments sake?

Last edited by Fdemetrio; 09/22/20 11:03 PM.
#1169464 - 09/22/20 11:59 PM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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Originally Posted by Fdemetrio
Hey, does anybody know the rules/laws on covers. I found an outtake of a Springsteen song, shocker I know, but the chorus fits what I'm trying to do very much so and I'd like to take a shot at rewriting the verses, cause they dont fit as well, plus its a really good song that most haven't heard.

Do you need permission, or are you covered paying a licensing fee?

Guess I'm asking how much can you change it? I guess nobody will really hear it anyway, but just for arguments sake?


You're right up my alley with this post, and I study this type of thing intensely, study the copyright law, cases, the works.

When any artists covers a song, there is a concept called 'artistic interpretation' which means you'll put your stamp on the song. This is acceptable where you change a note or word here and there to suit your own style, but no one will shout 'theft' when you sing or perform, you're just putting your stamp on the song. Almost all singers do this.

If you change it significantly, where a 'reasonable person' upon hearing it, will agree that what you've created is derived from the original, a significant change like a new verse, or a new chorus, and thus constitutes a 'derivative work' if you are going to publish or perform it, you'll need consent from the copyright owner, which could be the publisher, or the artist, or the estate and you will likely have to pay either a one off fee, or negotiate a percentage from your sales.

The famous example of a 'derivative work' is Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole's iconic rendition of Over The Rainbow which he did as a medley with "What A Wonderful World", but I don't think he marketed it as a derivative, he marketed it as a cover and he just did his 'interpretation'. But, I could be wrong. To my ears, he changed the song substantially and should have gotten consent to the estate of Howard Arlen and Yip Harberg, the composer/lyricist team ( what a team, eh? ) or maybe not, maybe it's just an'
interpretation of two songs done as medley which falls under compulsory licensing law. That one is a grey area, if you ask me.

George Harris unwittingly recorded a derivative work of the Chiffon's "He's So Fine" and he got sued.

Apprenty george heard the song when he was a child ( which would be the case, he was a child when the song was a hit ) forgot that he had heard it, and when the melody bubbled up in his consciousness, he thought he wrote the song.

Well, that's not too hard to do. I once wrote a song, thought I had a classic melody. But, I know a guy that knows 10, 000 songs so I always
run my new songs by him, and lo, the song I thought I wrote was identical to Gershwin's 'Soon'. And damn, I knew that song and I had forgotten all about it.

Another song I composed, only bore a very slight, ever so slight, resemblance to a rather obscure jazz song. Well, I played it for about 50 people, some of them were jazz lovers, and they didn't recognize it, so I went with it and no one has bothered my about it to date, it will stand on it's own. It only had 3 notes in common, and and everything about it was different, the rhythm, the meter, the feel, everything. and that's not enough to constitute infringement.

But, sometimes artists infringe, and they do a derivative version that is so popular, the original artist just takes it as a compliment and lets it slide, and I kinda think that is what happened with Kamakawiwo'ole's rendition of Over the Rainbow. The song is so beloved who is going to sue him? ANd he passed away, to boot. .

This was the case with Leo Sayer's "When I Need You" which stole a line from Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Coat".

But, Cohen let it slide, as apparently, Cohen unwittingly stole the line from Shubert, the classic composer, and thus it was in the public domain.

But, in the case of Eric Carmen, whose verse to the song "All by myself" was derived from a Rachmaninoff's Concerto #2 in C. But Carmen added a new chorus. The song is beautiful, but he got sued by the estate of Rachmaninoff because the song was still in copyright, it hadn't reached public domain. Apparently Carmen, because it was a classical piece, wrongfully assumed it was in the public domain. So, if you purchase the sheet music to "All by Myself" the by line will say 'Eric Carmen/ Sergei Rachmaninoff' Which is strange, but true.

If you are going to change a couple of notes, it's an interpretation and a 'cover' which you can record under compulsory licensing laws -- you'll still owe the copyright holder 9 cents or so per CD sold, or download, etc, but if you are not famous, no one's going to care much, but if you change an entire section, especially if you change the lyric, you'll need consent to create a derivative work, in writing, from the copyright holder.

But, if it's a parody, that's a whole 'nuther matter, I think it's okay to do a parody but.........


I am not a lawyer, and for something like this, do talk to a real lawyer, I just play one on JPF smile

























Last edited by Pat Hardy; 09/23/20 12:12 AM.
#1169467 - 09/23/20 12:36 AM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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Fdemetrio Online content
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Damn Pat, you're like the guy I run into at the store who when I ask how are you?? , that's a lethal question cause he's gonna tell me...lollllllll

Appreciate your knowledge and your input.

I figure your right, its just the chorus when I heard it I said, man, I must have written that in another life, its exactly what some of my new songs are saying, and I want that chorus on my album...lol. The verses are good but not what I'm looking for.

Ill live I guess, but I might do it for fun, and if I don't put it for sale, I couldn't get sued. I might bring concert ticket stubs to court and say hey bruce, I've seen you 30 times and more... Cut me some slack

Last edited by Fdemetrio; 09/23/20 12:37 AM.
#1170403 - 10/28/20 08:40 PM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Pat Hardy]  
Joined: Sep 2002
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BB Wilbur Offline
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BB Wilbur  Offline
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Birmingham, Alabama
Originally Posted by Pat Hardy

George Harris unwittingly recorded a derivative work of the Chiffon's "He's So Fine" and he got sued.

Apprenty george heard the song when he was a child ( which would be the case, he was a child when the song was a hit ) forgot that he had heard it, and when the melody bubbled up in his consciousness, he thought he wrote the song.


George Harrison was twenty years old when He's So Fine was released in 1963. My Sweet Lord was released just 8 years later.


Last edited by BB Wilbur; 10/28/20 09:23 PM.

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