Today, music streaming service SoundCloud is gaining popularity. Music fans love it, and people in the music industry also use it to distribute their tracks and receive royalties. But sometimes there are legal conflicts associated with copyright infringement. Therefore, the question often arises as to whether permission is required from the author to post a cover version of a particular track? Do I need permission to perform covers at a concert, i.e. own versions of pre-existing protected music? Let’s consider this question in more detail. The answer to it is not as simple as it might seem at first glance.
Another issue is the rights associated with the original artistic performance of the work. That is, these are the rights of performers: singers, instrumentalists, etc. who performed the original work.
These rights will not be used when creating covers if both music and vocals are performed live by new artists. This is because then you do not use the related rights of other performers at all, but create your own, new artistic performance. If the singer performs a song to an instrumental work of another artist, played from a carrier, then it is also necessary to obtain a license for the right to artistic performance of the musical work.
If the performance of someone else’s work leads to a change in the form or content of the song – a change in the melody or lyrics of the song, then such an action must be agreed not from the collective managing organization (which manages only property rights), but from the author himself (or representing the subject, when this the scope of presentation permits), since it is also a matter of personal copyright.
For this reason, if a work is to be performed in public at a concert by another performer, the prior consent of the songwriters of the songs being performed must be obtained. It should be remembered that public performance of one song may mean the use of copyrights in several works – for example, if we perform song lyrics – we must obtain a license to use a literary work.
When combining the words of song A with the melody of song B (or any of these songs with a work of one’s own authorship), the issue of moral rights is somewhat more complicated and depends, among other things, on whether these original works were only verbal works or only musical or verbal musical works.
It is assumed that the simple synchronization of a melody (only as a piece of music) with the words of, for example, a poem does not lead to the creation of a derivative work, since the content or form of any of these works does not interfere, but is only performed in their mutual company.
Most popular music is word-music, so combining a song’s melody with other lyrics would qualify as an arrangement, which would also require legal permission to use it.
All of the above means that performing and posting a cover version will still require permission from the music streaming service SoundCloud. Otherwise, the administration of this platform may regard the cover as a copyright infringement and send a notification to the user who posted the cover. After two notifications, the user’s account may be blocked.