4

A group decides to cover a protected piece of music. In this example, lets say "Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen".

  • Is the act of playing this song violate any copyright law?
  • Does it make a difference if they make money off playing a cover?
  • This answer could be improved by specifically asking if this is a live performance and/or recorded. – Elijah Lynn Apr 5 '19 at 22:28
  • You need a license to perform copyrighted music in public. See ascap.com/help/ascap-licensing – Hilmar Apr 6 '19 at 16:40
3

Unless they have permission or pay the required royalty: yes.

If they are playing it for personal entertainment or at a private function then they can make a fair use/dealing defence.

  • This answer should include a source(s) and possibly some case history. – Elijah Lynn Apr 5 '19 at 22:17
3

There are generally two copyrights for a song:

  1. First, the copyright on the composition (song in the abstract).
  2. Second, the copyright on the actual performance of the song.

If you're playing a cover, then the copyright on the original performance doesn't apply, but there's still the copyright on the composition. You are generally allowed to cover a song without permission of the writer, as long as you pay a rate set by statute. This is known as "compulsory license": https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-a-compulsory-license-in-music-2460357

  • Want to highlight that the article states the compulsory license is "A compulsory license lets a musician record (and sell) a rendition of a previously recorded song" and "a compulsory license only applies to music that is distributed to the public to be listened to by the end user." – Elijah Lynn Apr 5 '19 at 22:27

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