Let's say YouTuber #1 decides to copy a song from a band. They ask and get a license from them to do a remix. Could YouTuber #2 ask for permission to copy their remix to Pitch raise it and get away with it or do they have to ask the other YouTuber AND the band?

  • Now I do know that regularily pitch raising a song is illegal according to the Copyright Act of 1976, but what about piggybacking? Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 19:59

2 Answers 2



If YT#1 gets a license from artist A, that permits YT#1 to do whatever copying and reuse is stated in the license. It might be narrow or very broad. Usually such a license will only grant permission to the person who asked. Unless the license also grants permission to YT#2, or to some broader group which includes YT#2, YT#2 cannot claim any rights under such a license. Assuming that the license does not include him or her, YT#2 has the same rights as any member of the public would, but no more.

In general, pitch raising a piece of music is a way of creating a derivative work. In the US, under 17 USC 106 one needs permission from the copyright owner to create a derivative work. Otherwise doing so is copyright infringement. The laws of other countries, and the Berne Copyright Convention have similar provisions on this point. Creating a derivative work requires permission in all countries that I know about.

"Piggybacking" is not a thing in copyright law. A copyright owner can give permission (usually called a license) to any person or group of persons that the owner pleases. The permission does not extend to anyone else. This is true in all countries.

I should be clear that YT#2 needs permission from both YT#1, and from A. The way the question is worded I have been assuming that YT#2 had permission from YT#1, but a comment from grovkin made it clear that I needed to be more explicit about this.

It is possible for a license to permit a person to pass on the license to others. For example, all CC licenses and all copyleft and most open source licenses do this, and others could. But the license must explicitly grant such permission.

The one way in which a person might create a derivative work without permission and without it being infringement is if an exception to copyright applies. In the US the main exception to copyright is fair use. See Is this copyright infringement? Is it fair use? What if I don't make any money off it? for more detail on fair use. Fair use decisions are made on a case by case basis, and generally depend on the detailed facts of the ase. But based on the limited info in the question, this would not qualify. It seems to use the whole piece of music, which tends to weigh against fair use. The new work does not seem to be transformative, that is, it seems to serve the same general purpose as the original. The new work might harm the economic value of the original, or might if many people did this. The original is creative, not factual. All of those weigh against fair use.

Different countries have very different exceptions to copyright, and I do not know all of them. But the use described in the question does not seem to fit any that I know of.

In any case, an exception to copyright applies to anyone, and does not depend on another person's license. It is thus never a form of "piggybacking".

By the way, the question describes pitch raising ads "illegal". Making an unauthorized derivative work gives the copyright owner grounds to sue. If the owner does sue, and wins, s/he might be awarded money damages, and the court might issue an injunction ordering the infringer not to infringe again. But it would not normally be treated as a crime, and law enforcement would not be involved. In the US, only bulk copyright infringement, carried out as a business, is usually prosecuted (for example a factory churning out unauthorized music CDs).

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    @grovkin Yes the remix would have its own copyright, at least if the revisions are sufficient to be protectabl;e. But that is not relevant to this question, because a derivative of the remix is still a derivative of the original, and permission from the original holder is still required, Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 23:28
  • Yes, I was thinking what @grovkin was thinking but then I was thinking what david was thinking as well. I just wanted to see which one of my thoughts was correct. I understand. I was planning to pitch raise some of my favorite Imagine Dragons songs and wanted to know if I would get in trouble for it. Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 14:59
  • @Joseph Casey Legally, you ould need permission from Imagine Dragons. Yu won't "get in trouble" unless Imagine Dragons becoems aware of what you have done, and choosesm to take legal action. But thy could. Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 17:52

Depends on the licence

If the licence allows relicencing, then yes. If it doesn’t, then no.

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