When it comes to copyright, many artists often have doubts about the legality of a song, the use of a sample or even their own rights. Here are some informative facts that can help you figure out your next step.
Artists’ Exclusive Rights of Work
- Perform in public
- Copyright is automatic by the moment of creation.
- A sound recording is separate from a composition.
- Copyrights do not last forever. They last 70 yrs after the death of the artist.
- It is not legal to use any amount of copyrighted music without permission. The 30 sec rule doesn’t apply at all.
- Everything published prior to 1923 in the US is in the public domain and anyone can use it without permission.
- Cover Songs. Record your own version of a song because it’s much easier to obtain mechanical license.
- Use tunes published before 1923 and add your own lyrics.
- Avoid “Poor Man’s Copyright” (mailing a recording of your music to yourself and keep it sealed) or uploading your music to Youtube as proof. Registering is not that expensive if your submit several tracks at once.
- Radiohead was sued for plagiarism for “Creep” due to similarities to “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies, resulting in Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood getting credits as co-writers.
- Royalties for “Hello,I Love You” by The Doors are paid to Ray Davies from The Kinks for plagiarism of “All Day and All of the Night”.
- Reports state that Killing Joke sued Nirvana for stealing the riff of “Eighties” and use it in “Come as You Are” but the lawsuit was dropped following Cobain’s death.
- The Verve paid 100% of their royalties for “Bitter Sweet Symphony” to The Rolling Stones
- because of the use of a sample from an orchestral version of “The Last Time”.
- If you want to use “Happy Birthday to You” commercially, you have to pay. The song generates about $2 million in royalties annually.