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Friday, 2 January 2015

Creating and Posting Cover Songs on the Internet (YouTube, SoundCloud, etc)

So 3 posts ago, I posted about a cover version of My Grown Up Christmas List that I created and uploaded onto SoundCloud.

I was wondering if it would be infringing any copyright laws, especially if I am not intending to make money out of the track.

On the other hand, I see a huge number of YouTube artists performing cover versions of songs. Has anybody wondered if it was legal at all?

I searched and found an article in NewMediaRockstars,com that held some promise of answering my question.

From what I understand from the article, it is actually illegal to upload and produce our own cover versions of copyrighted songs without permission from the creator.

However, quoting from the article: "Back in 2012, YouTube made deals with major US publishers that allowed creators to keep up their covers while publishers took upwards of 50 percent of the revenue generated from them. Unfortunately, we’re still not sure which publishers officially signed on. This means that even though YouTube has made it legal to upload a great deal of cover songs, we have no clue what those cover songs actually are."

Therefore if we really want to steer clear of copyright infringement when posting cover recordings of copyrighted songs, we have to  check with YouTube's list of publishers and which songs fall under the coverage of that deal.

For those who have uploaded material that publishers have flagged up to be infringing their copyright, that video will have the following notification on his/her video.


Another consideration for content creators who upload cover songs on YouTube, is the "three strikes" policy. YouTube states that for any user who receives three strikes of having claimed to be infringing copyright, his/her account will be removed, along with all his/her videos. Thereafter, he/she will be barred from creating a YouTube account, and from accessing YouTube's community features.

So it looks like in order for us to be on the safe side, we need to find out the publisher of the songs we want to cover, and to see if those fall under the list of songs included in the YouTube deal struck in 2012.

That is how much I have found out at the time of this post. 

I will continue to read up and find out how other music hosting platforms deal with the issue, and what are the proper procedures to go about doing this, if it is legal at all.