Eli5: how does a cover song work?

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Like can an artist just make a cover song like a band called “PREP” did with “As It Was” from harry styles? Do they have to get permission from the original artist to make the cover song or they don’t need to?

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2 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

In US copyright law, this is called a “mechanical license”. The cover artist pays a fee to a licensing agency, which compensates the original artist. They don’t have to get the original artist’s consent; rather, paying the license fee entitles the cover artist to record and sell the cover version.

(It’s called “mechanical” because it was originally devised for player pianos.)


Anonymous 0 Comments

No, they do not need to get permission. In copyright law there is a “compulsory license”, and as long as you submit the royalties, you can cover whatever song you want (as long as it has been commercially released, you can’t steal an unreleased song and release it first and say it’s a cover)