Copyright in Youtube Covers
Holding a degree in Business Administration and Programming, Pablo established Legis Music in 2016. With a focus on the royalty-free music industry, he has contributed extensively to the field, authoring over 150 articles on various aspects of music licensing. His efforts have been instrumental in developing one of the most straightforward and liberal music licensing frameworks available today.
The legal and copyright issue regarding covers -musical versions- of songs on Youtube is very extensive, so we will divide this article into several sections.
We recommend reading it all in case you are interested in recording any of them to upload them to your channel.
Copyright in Covers and Samples
From a copyright perspective, a cover is a musical work derived from an existing musical work.
Many, many artists, especially those starting out as bands or solo artists, turn to songs that are already famous to begin to reach their audiences.
If you, as a producer or musician, decide to cover a song, it is essential that you request the respective permission from the owner of the rights of the work, which will usually be in the hands of a music publisher.
Although, as we will see in the next section, it all depends on the type of song we are going to cover.
A sample, on the other hand, consists of taking part of a sound or a song -not all of it- to use it in another new musical work.
Many music producers, especially in electronic music, use the “sample” as a means to enrich the works they work on, however, as in the case of covers, it is also necessary to request authorization from the copyright holder of the work to be “sampled”.
There are 3 different “states” for songs on the Internet, which we will see below:
Public Domain Songs
Public domain songs are usually those where a certain amount of time has passed since the death of their composer and they are no longer under copyright.
This time varies from country to country and does not depend on the author’s country of origin, but on your country, so find out by doing a Google search how long you have to wait for a work to enter the public domain.
Currently, in most parts of the world, recording rights expire after 50 years.
Public domain works can be copied, distributed, adapted, performed and exhibited in public for free, as if they belonged to everyone, so you will most likely have no problem when it comes to making a cover and uploading it to Youtube.
Here you can find a complete list of songs of this type.
Songs under Creative Commons licenses
There are six different types of Creative Commons licenses, as explained in our article on free licenses.
Independent and little known artists usually distribute their songs in this way and depending on which one it is, you can make covers of them without having to ask for permission, but always mentioning the original author in the description of the video you are going to upload to your channel.
In these cases always do what the license indicates, or if necessary contact the musician to ask him/her directly.
It is usually not difficult to find their email address or their social networks.
Songs under rights Managed
If you have reached this article it is because you probably intended to cover a famous song from the present or from recent years.
Surely this will be protected by copyright and Youtube will automatically detect it thanks to its algorithm called Content ID, which scans all uploaded videos precisely to avoid copyright infringement on protected materials.
In case we upload the cover without further ado, a warning will most likely appear in your Youtube account.
These ads have different forms: If what you have received is an ‘ID Matched Content‘ notice there is nothing to worry about, they are probably just banner ads appearing in your video, as through these some entity will be earning revenue by having claimed audio or image contained in your video.
It will continue to be available in virtually all countries and will be viewable without any problems.
On the other hand, if what you receive is a notification that some entity ordered Youtube to remove your video for copyright infringement, then we will have a problem, since that represents a “strike” and your account will begin to be compromised.
Currently Youtube only allows you to accumulate three strikes, once accumulated all three will delete your account permanently.
If you accumulate a strike, you are given 6 months to expire and your account will be clean again.
To avoid getting a strike, it is essential to follow these steps to verify what kind of copyright and permissions a song has.
If the song does not appear in the music policy section or we are not satisfied with the terms presented therein, it is best not to risk it and ask for permission.
The easiest way then is to turn to Easy Song Licensing. We recommend reading their F.A.Q. section first of all.
If the song is not found there either, the problem then is to get an answer directly from the rights management company, which may be the music publisher of the group in question or the music rights management entity of the country.
Each country has its own management company -P.R.O.- and you can see a list of them by clicking here.
If the rights to the song are held by the collecting society in your country (even if the artist is from another country, this may be the case), you will be able to purchase the license through them.
If not, they will let you know who to talk to in order to acquire the lien and do everything legally.
However, these permissions will surely be linked to a monetary payment, which will be higher or lower depending on the type of use we are going to give it.
Monetize your music cover videos
This whole process makes it very difficult for us to cover music today, but it is for the common good: in this way the authors benefit economically from the use of their works and are given the means to continue creating musical works.
Once our cover is done, uploaded to Youtube and free of complaints, we can follow these detailed steps that we comment from the same platform to monetize our video without further problems.
Note that many times you will have to share that monetization with the creator or that some copyright owners may not enable the monetization feature for specific songs, so this option will not be available on some claimed music cover videos.
There are other cases where videos are not suitable for sharing revenue-earning benefits, such as the following:
- Videos containing a recording of a commercial sound, such as an instrumental or karaoke song. - Recordings of live performances.Consejos finales
The best advice given by advanced Youtube users is not to upload so many covers and, if you do so, try not to use the original audio to play over it, because then the video will be more susceptible to claims.
In the case of covers of independent bands or artists or belonging to an independent label it is much less likely that there will be a claim, but still we can not trust: nobody may claim for years and someone may order your video to be removed immediately and start the problems overnight.
We know that when you start out you always feel like sharing videos playing your favorite songs, but think about taking your creativity to the next level and uploading jams or using backing tracks and creating or improvising something over them.
Upload your own songs, either solo or with your band at a rehearsal.
Upload videos of tips or lessons, videos talking about one of your favorite guitars or pedals, etc.
This will make you have no copyright problems and you will also be showing the music community your own personality, ideas and proposals, which can be of great help and interest to many.
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