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Legally licensing a cover of a composition that may as well not exist? Studio Monitors
Old 13th September 2011
  #1
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Legally licensing a cover of a composition that may as well not exist?

Hey everyone. I'd just like to say that I found this site doing a google search for some info on copyright law. The forum also seemed to have tons of info on gear, and of course, this dragged me in and tempted me to join, as I am a natural born gearslut
Anyhow, I frequent the Hoffman forums mostly.

I was interested in the legalities of recording a cover song, and I am familiar with the process of the .091 cent rate per song under 5 minutes per copy pressed from the Harry Fox website to pay the mechanical licenses for a recorded composition, I have also taken a look at Limelight but was not impressed. I understand that no radical changes can be made to the composition, lyrics or arrangement, or else it becomes a derivative work.

However,
How does one go about "covering" a song that does not really exist, such as "Carnival Of Light"? I mean, it obviously exists, but as far as we are all concerned, it may as well just be a figment of our imagination, and any recorded "cover" version is essentially one's own musical interpretation of something they have only read about.
So how would something like this legally be done? Would the track have to be titled something else? But can there be a sub-title "Inspired By Carnival of Light"?


For what it's worth, I am working on recording a Beatles cover album. I will be using mostly acoustic guitars as instrumentation, but some more interesting choices will find their way into the record as well (synthesizers, brass instruments, woodwinds, exotic percussion, etc.)
I am recording directly to multitrack tape, and mixing down to two track 1/4". I will leave the DSP units and pedals out of the recording chain for the guitars (and everything else). This will be closer to an EP in length than an album, and will eventually be pressed to 12" vinyl (45 RPM for it's amazing transient response). I am also using Ampex 456 tape stock for most of the project. I may mix to ATR. In any case, I find it odd that I've read everywhere that 456 is nothing but sticky-shedding trouble, and yet I've never encountered a bad reel of it. And I have reels of it from different batches across many years of it's production. Granted, I have not a very large amount of 456 reels, but I just found it interesting that I've yet to encounter a bad one. Sorry for going off topic. It's my first post and I'm excited.
Old 13th September 2011
  #2
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narcoman's Avatar
 

"Inspired by" would be fine.

As for covering it - the same way as any other track. Problem is, it ain't around so it's never a cover is it!!
Old 13th September 2011
  #3
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AwwDeOhh's Avatar
 

I was under the impression that you can't 'cover' unpublished works. (at least not without working out some kind of deal with the copyright holder(s) )

You may want to consult with a lawyer on that one, to see what its status actually is. (that is an interesting case)

Or.... you can wait another decade and see if it finally gets released into the wild! heh

That's not to say that you couldn't do something along those lines, and have an 'inspired by' if you're trying to keep it in the Beatles spirit (but be aware of the line, and keep thy toes inside the vehicle!)
Old 14th September 2011
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AwwDeOhh View Post
I was under the impression that you can't 'cover' unpublished works. (at least not without working out some kind of deal with the copyright holder(s) )

You may want to consult with a lawyer on that one, to see what its status actually is. (that is an interesting case)

Or.... you can wait another decade and see if it finally gets released into the wild! heh

That's not to say that you couldn't do something along those lines, and have an 'inspired by' if you're trying to keep it in the Beatles spirit (but be aware of the line, and keep thy toes inside the vehicle!)

Now, since the track was performed publicly in the past, wouldn't that make the song "published"? I'm sure a lawyer would have much to shed light upon in regards to the status of this particular track, and other similar pieces. Not a bad idea for curiosities sake. Let's all hire one heh
Old 14th September 2011
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRom92 View Post
Now, since the track was performed publicly in the past, wouldn't that make the song "published"? I'm sure a lawyer would have much to shed light upon in regards to the status of this particular track, and other similar pieces. Not a bad idea for curiosities sake. Let's all hire one heh
no

that is performed
performed is not published
Old 14th September 2011
  #6
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narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldeanalogueguy View Post
no

that is performed
performed is not published
yup.
Old 14th September 2011
  #7
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To the OP, you could see if the song is in the hfa database, if not you could contact the publisher directly.

as a last resort you could just do it and see what happens... Unlikely anyone would spend the time or money to sue for any substantive damages (or any greater legal action than a cease and desist) especially on a self released indie album.

Things haven't worked out so bad for Danger Mouse after the Grey Album.




Posted from a scoring stage or recording studio via the Gearslutz iPhone app
Old 14th September 2011
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GearOnTheGo View Post
To the OP, you could see if the song is in the hfa database, if not you could contact the publisher directly.

as a last resort you could just do it and see what happens... Unlikely anyone would spend the time or money to sue for any substantive damages (or any greater legal action than a cease and desist) especially on a self released indie album.

Things haven't worked out so bad for Danger Mouse after the Grey Album.




Posted from a scoring stage or recording studio via the Gearslutz iPhone app

Record labels have gone after youtube videos with 12 second cellphone clips of peoples children dancing to a song thats playing on a radio in the background. Not taking any chances, I'm in no position to be screwed.

Song is definitely not in the HFA listings. See, it was never really published, but anyhow, it was played (I wouldn't say performed, it was pre-recorded and none of the beatles were there) publicly.
Technically there must be some sort of entity to hold rights over, other than the actual recording itself, which nobody has besides Macca so nobody could release it even if they did get his permission.
So if the composition was never copyrighted, this leaves pretty much any of us open to go and copyright Carnival Of Light, no?
Old 14th September 2011
  #9
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narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRom92 View Post
Record labels have gone after youtube videos with 12 second cellphone clips of peoples children dancing to a song thats playing on a radio in the background.
Well they wouldn't win that as the many BIEM agreements cover such scenarios!!

Here's a thing though - OP : have you HEARD the song you're referring to. I thought nobody had?

As for copyright - you don't have to "copyright" a song. Even in the USA> Copyright is implied the second you create something. PROVING it is the issue and the USA is a nation that has a copyright registration system in place.
Old 14th September 2011
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
Well they wouldn't win that as the many BIEM agreements cover such scenarios!!

Here's a thing though - OP : have you HEARD the song you're referring to. I thought nobody had?

As for copyright - you don't have to "copyright" a song. Even in the USA> Copyright is implied the second you create something. PROVING it is the issue and the USA is a nation that has a copyright registration system in place.

Ah, I see, thanks for the info, that clarifies alot of things Although even if I did win, I'd be bled dry by legal expenses.
Me hear the track? No, I wish. Apart from The Beatles Themselves, whatever engineers were in the room at the time of the mix, and the people who attended the festival (lucky bastards), and that lucky bastard of a beatles author Mark Lewissohn (sp?), I don't think anyone has heard it. That's why it would be interesting to try to recreate it. I wouldn't go as far as shouting "Barcelona", or extending to piece to 15 minutes. But for 3 minutes of a side, I could let my mind wander, experimenting with feedback, electronic overload, tape loops, splicing, backwards tape, varispeed, flanging, delay, etc. all sorts of strange effects. Such things usually aren't releasable. Or more accurately, marketable. But a short piece driven by the imagination of what COULD BE, included with other, more listenable things, would be a fun idea, and probably would entice buyers as well IMO. It just seems interesting, to me at least. It seems like the most unique tribute I could do to my favorite band.
I feel that once the Beatles track finally is released, I would end up losing a large part of my imagination hahah. I'd like to tap into it while possible.
Old 14th September 2011
  #11
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narcoman's Avatar
 

well - then it's not a cover at all.

there is no copyright on the title - I can write a song called "Imagine" if I want.

Go forth and make some arty noise
Old 15th September 2011
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRom92 View Post
Record labels have gone after youtube videos with 12 second cellphone clips of peoples children dancing to a song thats playing on a radio in the background. Not taking any chances, I'm in no position to be screwed.

Song is definitely not in the HFA listings. See, it was never really published, but anyhow, it was played (I wouldn't say performed, it was pre-recorded and none of the beatles were there) publicly.
Technically there must be some sort of entity to hold rights over, other than the actual recording itself, which nobody has besides Macca so nobody could release it even if they did get his permission.
So if the composition was never copyrighted, this leaves pretty much any of us open to go and copyright Carnival Of Light, no?
you dont know that it was not copyright

it *was* copyrighted the moment the other guy fixed it in a medium. eg wrote it down.

he may or may *not* have registered it yet
you dont know that from looking at hfa

no matter. you try to register it and he could still nail you although it would take a lot of effort to prove he was the originator.

titles are irrelevant. you cannot copyright them. he could have used any title when registering.

by only performing it they get to keep all rights and do not have to give a mandatory license.

contact the guy
if he wont give you permission and license it to you then
forget it
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