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Posting "cover" songs - how to do this appropriately?

I would like to post some of the songs that I perform, but most of them are copyrighted pieces. What do you other folks do, when adding MP3 clips of covers on your page? Is there any copyright permission to get? How about royalties? Does AGC pay the royalties, and we get the composers' permission? I guess some folks just take the risk and post a piece and let the cards fall as they may. But, I think there is an implied responsibility, especially if you read the NING policy.
What can you tell me? !! Thanks! -- Rick

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I just looked at this site's Community Guidelines. Read paragraphs 2 and 3 which covers the posting of copyrighted material.

Now for some details:
I just read an article on Copyright in the March 2010 (current issue as of this posting) of Recording Magazine. The article is not online but this month's issue is well worth the price for songwriter's in general.

I am no lawyer but from the sounds of what I've read, a posting of a cover song is a copyright infringement. Something interesting to note from the article in Recording Mag is it states a copyright holder "..may also be able to recover "statutory damages"; damages that a court may award even if the infringer did not profit from his or her wrongful acts."

I've never heard of any cases of artists suing people for posting cover songs on YouTube. It can be considered free advertising IMO. But if a cover is done without permission and, for whatever reason, it becomes a "hit" on the web or you include it on CDs there is probably cause for an infringement case.

I am also not a lawyer and never heard about some one being sued over a cover on You Tube. I do know that some recordings on You Tube have been removed due to copyright infringements. I have seen a number of interesting videos that have been replaced with a legal statement that the video has been removed due to copyright issues.

One was a threesome singing "Red House" with Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimmy Hendrix. They were all obviously higher than kites.......In this particular case I believe the entity who recorded the event objected to its use.

The AGC Community Guidelines above make it perfectly clear that the person making the posting is responsible for content. If any one complains AGC will remove the post but is not responsible for the content.

I would hope that anyone posting to this site have read the Comunity Guidelines.....right?

I've seen those removal notices as well. I think the postings you are referring to are blatant copyright infringements because it was material not produced by the poster. It was copied by the poster from a CD or DVD and then posted.

The question here is referring to someone producing their own version of a copyrighted work. I believe the same rules apply. But artists may look the other way since there is no blatant copying of the original work. Imitation is the best form of flattery...

Good day, John,
Thank you very much for your response, and the reference to the "RECORDING MAGAZINE" article; I will purchase that issue to study it (if I can find the mag in Helena, MT.......) I had read the community guidelines and the NING agreement information, but, I could not reconcile what I read with what I saw/heard on AGC or You Tube, so, I am trying to gain some clarity. And it is a cloudy, ambiguous, if not duplicitous path. "You Tube", as an example has paid the ASCAP/BMI royalty requirements, so, that part appears "covered" - no pun intended. What is not, usually, taken care of is the permission requirement from the composer/original artist. I agree with your "free advertising" opinion, and perhaps, many artists are flattered, happy, or even amused by some of the covers. There are thousands of them on You Tube.... I will be interested to see other comments on this, to see if there is more illumination on this issue. I still would like to put up some of my recordings, but, I do not want to wind up at wrong end of a judge's gavel, so, maybe, to be safe, I will stick with public domain music..... THANKS VERY MUCH, John; I am very grateful for your time, thought, and research on this. I know other folks will benefit, too. Best Wishes, Rick
I notice that many videos are posted on all sites, including Facebook, Utube, Myspace, of people performing cover tunes. However when I post an MP3 on Facebook or Myspace they indicate that I must own the rights to the song. So I have only posted original songs. I have not see this requirement on AGC. Is there a difference between video and audio copyright requirements? I, like Rick, would also would like to post some cover tunes.

The requirement on AGC is shown in the Community Guidelines.

Thanks John, it appears that I could post a cover tune on AGC and it would be alright if no one asks me to remove it. However, both Facebook, Myspace, and Reverbnation are very clear that you must own the rights to any songs you post. I would like to find out more about what the legal issues are?
I only post Cover Songs in the form of YouTube videos because of YouTube's arrangement with royalty payment responsibility.
I refrain from posting mp3 files of cover songs anywhere.
I only post original songs as streaming mp3 files.

When I started out I had the same concerns about posting YouTube cover songs. I actively contacted YouTube and asked the question. I went further and, since I do a lot of Neil Young cover songs, contacted his publishing company to ask what the policy was and they did not seem very concerned as long as nothing was put up for sale.

Then I ran in to Neil Young himself in May 2008 and told him I was covering his songs on YouTube. He gave a big thumbs up and has since watched a few. I even got a comment from someone that works for Neil Young to keep on posting. So in a way I have his endorsement at least. Neil Young's band Crazy Horse bassist Billy Talbot also told me in person that he watches me on YouTube and complimented me on my covers of their songs. Met him in October 2008.

I believe some artists, like Neil Young, see these cover songs as a great marketing tool for their work.
Other than that I have had no other issues with cover songs from other artists. But I definitely only post covers to YouTube and just share those videos.

The difference between posting an audio file for streaming and posting a video is also a consideration. For the audio file streaming is the form of listening and the permission requirement covers streaming. For videos I was told a synchronization permission may be required although it was not made clear. So at the time when I asked there was a distinction between mp3 and video.
Also, I don't offer any cover songs for sale.

BTW, Never got an answer from YouTube after several tries. This was before they reached a royalty agreement.
Bottom Line is best not to post streaming audio of cover songs in my opinion.
I just posted a cover song to my page. I hope someone doesn't put our a contract on me.
If anyone ever got upset about interpreted covers of their songs only intended to "share the music" and make no profit, then I want Pete Seeger as my attorney......


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