Music Publishing and Song Rights For Covers

Discussion in 'Publishing / Marketing' started by Ken7, Mar 24, 2004.

  1. Ken7

    Ken7 Guest

    A group of un-know artists (like me) have recorded songs (covers) by a well know artist. We are putting together a Tribute CD. This was intended to be done for fun and any profits are to be donated to a charity that was approved by the manager of the artist we are paying tribute too. There are artists submitting songs from all over the country.

    The business manager of this artist has given us his blessings for the project through the Producer who is running the project.

    The Producer is this one guy who has a small Recording studio in a small town and is taking all the songs that we have already recorded and is going to do the entire mastering etc and then get the CD's pressed. We learned that the publishing fees have to be paid in advance, which for 24 songs, adds up pretty quickly. The Producer originally told us the publishing fees would be paid as we sell CD’s with the publishing fees being paid right from the sales so no big money was needed up front.

    Most of us are willing to pay the publishing fees for our songs. The Producer has told us that he will pay for all that, so that it makes it easier on all of us and he said he will re-cope the money with the sales of the CD. And then after he gets his money back, then the profits go to Charity.

    I have a few questions for anybody that may know the answers:

    If the producer pays the Publishing fees for us, does he then own the rights to the song that I recorded and all the other artists, all 24 songs? Or because they are all covers, does it really matter?

    Would this Producer be able to gain permission to use our cover songs we recorded without our consent because he paid the publishers to use our songs on his CD? So like if he wanted to use our covers on another CD etc he could without our permission??

    I guess the bottom line is who owns the actual recordings. They are all covers, but still who will have the rights to the recorded cover songs that we did? Him for paying the publishers or us for making the recordings?

    Would the Tax man come knocking? Even with no profits??

    Are we all better off letting this Producer do everything from a money stand point as he wants too? Its just strange that he doesn't want us all to chip in.

    We are only going to press 500 copies.

    If there is anything that anyone could think of that we should be aware of please chime in. This has been a learning experience and I do not want to make any mistakes.

  2. aaronwiles1

    aaronwiles1 Guest

    If you haven't done so, here's the link to the copyright website.

    This will give you all the details about copyright law. Be prepared to go crosseyed when reading this, as it's a little difficult to really understand some of it if you don't know how copyrights work.

    There's a lot more to it than just publishing fees. Depending on the artists who your covering, you have the Harry Fox Agency, etc. And of course all the royalties.

    It would be of great benefit to you to consult an Entertainment Lawyer. You'll probably have several contracts you're going to have to deal with.

    In reference to your questions:

    If the songs are written by the producer, he has rights. BUT, if these songs are written by other artists, those artists have what is called Exclusive Rights as described in the Copyright Title 17 Section 106.

    Unless he has the Exclusive Rights to these songs, he will not be paid any royalties to these songs.

    You will have to obtain permission from Publishers of the songs and pay the Royalty fees for any derivative of the songs that you cover.

    That's all the time I have for now. Read up on the link I posted. But, like I said, it would be in your best interest to involve a lawyer on this one. Including the issues w/ the producer and him paying for any fees.

    Hope this helps,

  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Contact Harry Fox Agency in New York. The handle just about all of the songs relesed in America. They are on the web, ...

    The owner of the studio, as the primary producer and engineer on the project, does have producers rights to the recordings. He is entitled to a specifc cut on the take.. however he does not have the right to re use the recordings in another compilation or for other uses without the artist(s) permission.. Someone will have to make a SR form application to the Library of Congress (copyright office) to copyright the actual sound recording. Whoever gets that copyright first, will own the rights to the recordings.

    Yes the royalties need to be paid upfront for however many copies you have manufactured.. If you run off 1000 copies, times that by 24 and the figure about .8 cents per song (last time I checked) as a licensing fee.
  4. Ken7

    Ken7 Guest

    These are all cover songs.

    There are no originals on the CD.

    It was my understanding that all we had to do was pay the .085 per song x 500 copies, to the publishers for their fees?

    But since the profits are being donations to a charity, a non-profit organization, does the IRS still need forms filled out by everyone, or just the Producer?

  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Yes the 8.5 cents sounds about right. Treena says it is actually 8.7 cents. I don't know a thing in regards to your IRS liabilities. you should contact them with that question.

    Here is a link to the correct page at Harry Fox Agency
  6. Ken7

    Ken7 Guest

    Just got an email from the producer who said he is sending out a form for all of us to sign, giving him permission to use our recordings on this Tribute CD.

    I hope this does not give him the rights to use our songs wherever and however he wants too anywhere else without our permission!
  7. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Read the contract carefully and if in doubt consult your lawyer.

    Also I work with a lot of non profit organizations and they have to pay the fee even though they are non profit. Similar to what you are asking about. I would check with the Harry Fox Agency before anything else is done.

  8. Ken7

    Ken7 Guest

    I guess it comes down to basically this question:

    How do I protect my Renditions of cover songs I recorded from being used without my permission?

    In other words, say someone wants to use my cover of a Bruce Springsteen song I recorded on a commercial, a radio spot, on another CD etc. I want to own the rights to my recording. I do not want the Producer to own the rights, or anyone else for that matter.

    I do understand that the writer, the original artist and publisher have rights to their fees and royalities.

    I’m concerned about my versions and what rights and protection I have.

    What does an artist do to protect a cover song or songs on a CD?

    Thanks for all the feed back
  9. Ken7

    Ken7 Guest

    Would this SR Copyright be what I am looking for?
    Seems simple enough and only $20.

  10. aaronwiles1

    aaronwiles1 Guest

    Form SR is the correct form for "Sound Recording". If I remember correctly there are fields for "Derivative Works", (section 6) etc. Be sure to fill in the proper "Author" info of who wrote the songs... You will probably have to find out when it was originally copyrighted from the Harry Fox Agency.

    Here's the link to the form:

    Also, it's now $30 not $20.
  11. aaronwiles1

    aaronwiles1 Guest

    Almost forgot, you will probably have to file a form for EACH song that you do. Then you will have do an additional one for the "Collection" (which would be the album). So if you have 12 songs, and they are all derivatives, you would have one for each song, then one for the album (or collection of the SR itself), therefore you would have a total of 13 copyrights...and at $30 a pop, that's $390.
  12. tyrocks00

    tyrocks00 Guest

    thank you for all the info...very helpful

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