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#1169459 - 09/22/20 10:01 PM Copyright/covers  
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Fdemetrio Offline
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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 10:03 PM.
#1169464 - 09/22/20 10:59 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; 09/22/20 11:12 PM.
#1169467 - 09/22/20 11:36 PM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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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; 09/22/20 11:37 PM.
#1170403 - 10/28/20 07:40 PM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Pat Hardy]  
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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 08:23 PM.

Who says I can't play the banjo?
#1170484 - 10/31/20 02:33 AM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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The Chiffons: "He's So Fine".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rinz9Avvq6A

George Harrison: "My Sweet Lord".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP9wms6oEMo

After The Chiffons sing "He's So Fine" in Line 1 their Melody has more Notes, the Lyric more words.
Harrison's repeats the three-notes. The rest of the Lines seem to vary far from the "He's So Fine" Melody.
I can see similarities in other Lines, the background vocals, but they seem more different than alike to my ear.
I think there's a tempo difference too that seems very significant, slight, but different.
The "Doo dah lang" and "Halleleuja" background vocals might have similarities but are not significantly similar.
I wonder how the notes on sheet music match up. I'm not a musician trained in sight-reading but it would be easy to see those representations and the similarities and differences. I think pitches may match in places but durations would vary, due to tempo.
The Chord Structure and timing of Changes may be similar, but significantly?
I always thought Harrison acquiesced to the 'ruling' on it, rather than continue to contest it, as a time/money-consuming point of principle.
The Santana "Evil Ways"/Zombies "She's Not There" dispute is one I think that had merit, and I think Santana simply recorded "She's Not There", got another hit out of it, and the Copyright holder made some bank, to settle the issue. I think they make a fun medley to play and sing.

Santana: "Evil Ways".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tKIPuLfeKg

Zombies: "She's Not There".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2hXBf1DakE

Melodies vary widely. Tempo? Distinct difference.


There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
#1170501 - 10/31/20 11:24 AM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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Setting aside the comedically dramatic Screamin' Jay Hawkins delivery, Creedence Clearwater Revival shows the solidly 'listenable' Structure of the Song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWx...QfLphIJlfe_6f5xOzl3jC-Kcq0SyAAhWZohtIIJ8


There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
#1170504 - 10/31/20 02:21 PM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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Isn't lyrical content and subject matter what truly makes a song original? Since music theory teaches that three chords and a melody is pretty much the basis of any song, isn't how you play and sing more important than the notes and chords themselves? If variations of ABCDEFG are all you have to choose from, isn't it obvious that all options have been exhausted in the last 6000yrs? Aren't all instruments designed to accommodate and accompany the limits of the human voice? The music in a commercial for a vacation resort caught my ear just last night, and since my guitar is always handy, I played along. I quickly realized I was just playing "Smoke on the water" to a hip-hop beat with rap lyrics about bikinis and alcohol lol... Another example is Band in a box. Every generic preset "style" it gives you to choose from sounds just like thousands of other songs... I believe the only thing that makes you original is "you". Think about it, don't we compare each other to established musicians all the time as a complement? Here's a challenge; Name a popular song that DOESN'T follow the same chord progression as someone else's...

#1170505 - 10/31/20 03:02 PM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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"If variations of ABCDEFG are all you have to choose from, isn't it obvious that all options have been exhausted in the last 6000yrs?" - Jap

Actually 12 half-tones and their octaves. Add note duration to that and there are infinite possibilities. Yes, the more obvious arrangements of the half-tones have been mostly used. Go beyond three chord songs and many more possibilities. If I thought there were no more possibilities in composing original material, I'd hang myself. There are all kinds of modes to work from. And if you get tired of that, go into quarter-tone music.

Best, John smile

#1170506 - 10/31/20 04:09 PM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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Well, theres definitely truth in saying that all songs are derivative of all songs.

And lets take us Americans for a second , why is it that none of our songs sound like Indian or Muslim music? Or Egyptian music? Its cause we don't listen to that and can't be influenced by it.

But we are all influenced by blues, Chuck Berry and the Beatles, whether we realize it or not. And they are all influenced by blues.

We can't help but sound like other music.especially music we like and listen to often. Basicly f you write it, you heard it somewhere, in some shape or form.

The only time a copyright is going to come in play is if there is a hit song, and then another hit song that are similar. Even if there's thousands of songs that are similar.

Lyrics are also recycled and are all derived from previous stuff. And the funny thing is the only thing that makes a lyric unique is a title, and a title is NOT copyrightable!

And the key with a lyric is the idea, or the hook. Which somebody can steal and just write a new sequence of words based on that same idea.

You can even steal a line. As far as I know, you could write "you can check out any time you time you want, but you can't ever leave ." and have a completely different song.

Plus there's only so many words eventually you are going to be using words and phrases that have been used already .

And how many songs say "if" or "I love you" or don't break my heart, I'm sorry,
woke up this mornin, I miss you. Help me.

So its really moot that anything is original, nothing is.

Its just more obvious when an artist has a big hit with one thing, and then somebody else has a hit with it. Seems it only applies to music that makes money




Last edited by Fdemetrio; 10/31/20 04:12 PM.
#1170510 - 10/31/20 05:32 PM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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"Well, theres definitely truth in saying that all songs are derivative of all songs" - Fde

Yes, the evolution of music We are all influenced by others. Mozart was influenced by Haydn, Beethoven was influenced by Mozart, Brahms was influenced by Beethoven, Gershwin was influenced by Debussy, and so onÖ Iím influenced by them all (even the Beatles). That doesnít mean we canít be original in our own right. Thatís the great thing about mankind. Man leaves a legacy of knowledge behind for us to build on.

John smile

#1170512 - 10/31/20 05:52 PM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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True, but I bet if you had never heard classical music before, you would t be composing material that sounds like classical music . you'd still be creative,but in some other area.

I'd say anybody who likes rock n roll is influenced by chuck berry and the Beatles, and without the blues there's no Beatles, stones, zepelin , Hendrix, and even kids just learning today are influenced by them.even if they don't know it, cause the music they listen to is influenced by it.

The whole idea that we can pit a label on something shows its derivative .

True inovators? Not many . even artists who did something significantly different are rare.

I'm not a huge fan but Prince to me was extremely different. Eddie Van Halen on guitar nobody was doing what he did. John Entwistle of the who in bass changed how you play the bass.

In popular music I can't think of many TRUE innovators cause no blues, they don't exist.


Last edited by Fdemetrio; 10/31/20 05:54 PM.
#1170517 - 11/01/20 10:42 AM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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"And lets take us Americans for a second , why is it that none of our songs sound like Indian or Muslim music? Or Egyptian music? Its cause we don't listen to that and can't be influenced by it."

The fact that you can be taught the different modes and scales for different types of music is proof that everything has already been dissected and categorized. Country music... lol, has been reduced to a numbers system. THAT'S WHY IT UNMISTAKABLY SOUNDS LIKE COUNTRY! I can't count how many times I've been told, "You can't use jazz chords in a country song!" lol. And it seems to be the "industry" that forces you to conform. It may not be possible to truly have an original thought, but I can have a thought from my perspective and put it into my own words. When I sing those words, even though I know I'm naturally inclined toward blues progressions and scales, and even though I know the more I write... the more I tend to sound the same lol, I'm still fairly confident that I'm doing my own work. I guess it's a delicate balance, If you think too far outside the box then nobody will be able to categorize you... That's why I find "Rock" so forgiving smile

#1170519 - 11/01/20 11:05 AM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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Or the fact that you have to be taught to play in any style shows that its not your own invention.

There are artists out there who are genre benders, and do whatever they feel like, Frank Zappa was probably the most famous for this, rarely do you get famous if you do that.

Yeah, if you use a jazz chord in rock , you are considered progressive rock ,and there is an audience for it

But still how so we know its a jazz chord? Because we hear it listening to jazz. If we never listened to jazz ever, we wouldnt know it was jazz.

Rock has so many different sub genres probably more than any genre.

Rockabilly, rock n roll, acid rock, surf rock , frat rock, bar rock, progressive rock, punk rock, arena rock , theatrical rock , heavy metal, hard rock, new wave, grunge, math rock , shoe gazing rock, goth rock, emo rock, geek rock, indie rock, hard core, speed metal, death metal, power pop, pop rock, country rock, rap n roll, industrial rock, blues rock

I mean the list goes on forever.

Sting I think managed to meld rock, reggae, jazz, blues, country and pop successfully .

But its a fine line, like you say if you recognize the music that means its not unique.

So it comes down to how unique you can be within the borders of what's already there .

Try writing a brand new song to the same progression as twist and shout . easy, three chords how hard can it be right? Then when done, ask how different it is or even how good it is.

I think the one thing with real copyright protection are guitar riffs. Smoke on the water, heartbreaker, purple haze, back in black, day tripper, or any classic guitar riff, you can't get away with using them in your own song, without permission

Last edited by Fdemetrio; 11/01/20 11:10 AM.
#1170527 - 11/01/20 05:09 PM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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Lol... Most people don't realize just how limiting a guitar is. Especially acoustic guitar in A. Every time you play an Am on acoustic guitar someone will say that sounds just like "Stairway to heaven" or "Dust in the wind"... Any time you play 2 notes with lots of rhythmic delay you sound just like U2...

Last edited by JAPOV; 11/01/20 05:23 PM.
#1170536 - 11/01/20 10:51 PM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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What's cool about guitar though is you can use alt tunings, I know a guy who has a few albums out and plays locally, it seems he's changing tunings. Can't really do that on piano....

I'd say anytime you play a minor in the fifth fret position, its gonna get the stairway comparison because its probably the most famous song in music history, at least modern music history .

But if heard some crazy comparisons to some of my stuff. I'm like there is no way in he'll I sound like that...lol. And they don't even mention the guy I obviously sound like ...So u take it with a grain of salt.

Some people embrace that they will never do anything different or revolutionary , they just strive to be good. I think k its hard enough o write something good, even if you steal everything in it!

As I said your hooks are what's gonna separate you from other songs. You dont hear a smoke on the water riff on anything else

#1170537 - 11/01/20 10:52 PM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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What's cool about guitar though is you can use alt tunings, I know a guy who has a few albums out and plays locally, it seems he's changing tunings every song.. Can't really do that on piano....

I'd say anytime you play A minor in the fifth fret position, its gonna get the stairway comparison because its probably the most famous song in music history, at least modern music history .

But ive heard some crazy comparisons to some of my stuff. I'm like there is no way in he'll I sound like that...lol. And they don't even mention the guy I obviously sound like ...So u take it with a grain of salt.

Some people embrace that they will never do anything different or revolutionary , they just strive to be good. I think its hard enough to write something good, even if you steal everything in it!

As I said your hooks are what's gonna separate you from other songs. You dont hear a smoke on the water riff on anything else


Last edited by Fdemetrio; 11/01/20 10:55 PM.
#1170540 - 11/02/20 02:03 AM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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JAPOV Online happy
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JAPOV  Online Happy
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Didn't Weird Al Yankovic get into some trouble several years ago?

#1170551 - 11/02/20 10:12 AM Re: Copyright/covers [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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Lol Weird All, what an enigma he is . Talented guy but his parodies are not funny, and its amazing how he is the only one who is able to write parodies for a living, there's no room for anyone but Weird Al?


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