Originally Posted by Chris Lago
It's really ironic though that they steal something, claim it as their own, and then try to make money off of something that doesn't belong to them. That's theft at its worst. Are you saying that I can do a Billie Jean cover, put it on youtube then sell it on itunes without ever getting pursued? That's disgusting.
just because somebody's doing a cover, that doesn't mean they are "claiming it as their own", irrespective of whether they have cleared the rights to it.
I think calling it "disgusting" is hyperbole. It's performing a cover.
As several posters have pointed out in this thread, there exists a mechanism to deal with licensing on iTunes for exactly this phenomenon. I didn't actually know that, so this thread has already taught me something useful. That makes much more sense, as I was initially surprised iTunes would have already thought long and hard about this kind of thing. If it were that easy to put unlicensed music up on iTunes, we'd have already read hundreds of stories about it. See quote from Harry Fox website below.
Chris, for the sort of music you make, which is hard to promote via the live-music-band-gigging route, performing a few [licensed] covers of appropriate pop songs on iTunes would be an excellent strategic way of garnering yourself some publicity. You mentioned 'Billy Jean' - it sounds like you already know what to do. I can't help but think the degree of vehemence you're expressing is partly down to the fact that this has already occurred to you.
"Mechanical Licenses are required under U.S. Copyright Law if you want to record or distribute a song that you do not own. By properly licensing your recordings, you ensure that the publisher that represents the songwriter who wrote the composition gets paid. Reputable replicators and online music sites will require you to have these licenses before they duplicate your recording or offer it online. Royalties for Songfile licenses are set at the current U.S. statutory mechanical rate. In addition to royalty fees, there is a modest per-song processing fee of $13 to $15 charged by HFA, depending upon how many songs are licensed.
HFA's Songfile makes this easy. Songfile licensing is a tool to obtain mechanical licenses in a quantity of 25 to 2500 units for physical recordings (CDs, cassettes, vinyl) made and distributed in the U.S., or to create and distribute permanent digital downloads (PDDs) of a song from a server located within the U.S., at the current statutory mechanical rate . In addition to royalty fees, there is a modest per-song processing fee of $13 to $15 charged by HFA, depending upon how many songs are licensed at once. All processing is done online, and in most cases, you will have your license within 24 hours. Once processed, licenses are made available to you electronically for viewing and printing through your Songfile account. Please note that all songfile license fees are non-refundable."