Plagiarism: are cover and remixes plagiarisms? Do you need a special license to publish your cover?
If a musician wants to publish the work of another in his own interpretation or in edited form, he usually has to acquire the necessary rights first:
A cover is a new edition of a piece of music. If lyrics and melody remain the same, musicians have to pay royalties. It does not matter if other instruments are used or if the melody is sung in a different voice pitch than in the original.
In the case of extensive changes to the melody and/or lyrics of the piece of music and if the original work is still clearly recognizable, the consent of the composer is required and a license agreement must be signed.
In a remix, the song is remixed or given new instrumentation. Here, too, the following applies: If the original work is still recognizable, usage rights must be acquired.
If a piece of music is changed in such a way that it is hardly recognizable, it may be used without the consent of the author. This is called “free use”. In practice, however, there is hardly any free use of musical works.
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“Unfortunately, this video is not available in Germany.”
For German internet users, many a visit to YouTube ends in frustration. But why?
For years, German YouTube users have often been presented with a terse notice that the desired video is not available.Google, as the owner and operator of YouTube, on the one hand, and GEMA, as the collecting society, on the other, simply could not agree on how much to pay per song played on the Internet.
Records explain that Google wants to pay much less than GEMA would recognize as fair. On Friday the 20th April 2012, the Hamburg Regional Court ruled that the Internet portal YouTube may no longer put videos online for which GEMA, as the collecting society, claims copyright. In seven out of twelve cases, the court followed GEMA’s request.
Specifically, the GEMA demands from YouTube that the platform operator check before publishing a video whether the clip contains music subject to licensing. YouTube categorically rejects this – it is not technically feasible. Every minute, YouTube users upload over 60 hours of videos. Users like to ignore the fact that there is a copyright law that cannot simply be undermined and that many artists do not want to do without remuneration.
The GEMA or YouTube Disputes are no news to us. Do you have any queries about this topic? Make sure to contact us.
Horak. Attorneys-at-law : Your supporters in all copyright, media and music law matters.
Musicians Copyrights : Infos from your German Legal Team
If you are a musician and you are willing to know a bit more about European and German Musicians Rights, the following information are for you.
Copyright can be divided into three components: Exploitation rights, Right of use and Moral Rights.
The exploitation/utilization rightsare regulated in §§ 15 to 24 UrhG. These include the: reproduction right, distribution right, right of exhibition, and the right of communication to the public.
These rights belong solely to the author, i.e. the composer, and cannot be transferred to other persons. Only upon the composer’s death do the exploitation rights pass to his or her heirs. However, it is possible to grant a right of use to others.
Sections 31 to 44 UrhG regulate the rights of use of the authors. The composers may decide to grant their musical works to third parties for exploitation – e.g. record companies, publishers or musicians.
The moral rights of an author are found in §§ 12 to 14 UrhG. A composer always has the right to be named as the author of his or her work. The author is also protected by law against distortion of the work; this means that the author’s personal interests in his/her work are endangered – e.g. in the case of deterioration or distorted representation of the work.
Is the copyright of musicians transferable?
A composer cannot transfer the copyright in a musical work as such. This is also not possible by means of a contract. However, it is possible to grant others a right to use the work. To do this, a licence agreement is concluded which contains the most important information about the scope of use and the remuneration.
With the triumph of digital data carriers and the internet, the term “music piracy” is on everyone’s lips in music law. Music law contains an accumulation of regulations to combat and preventively curb the illegal distribution or illegal production of copies of copyrighted musical works. The limits of the said regulations are also found in copyright law, for example in the form of legal private copying from a source that is not obviously illegal, as defined in Section 53(1) UrhG.
However, violations of personal rights in music law are also particularly relevant in practice. In particular, musical works may contain socially critical lyrics as well as insulting or discriminatory content. In such cases, a collision of personal rights and the fundamental right of artistic freedom is regularly at the centre, whereby music law affects public law.
Furthermore, collecting societies play a massive role in the field of music law. Among the largest are the Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (GEMA) and the Gesellschaft zur Verwertung von Leistungsschutzrechten (GVL), which primarily look after the financial interests of the respective artists.
(Landgericht Düsseldorf, Urteil vom 12.06.2019 – 12 O 263/18 – )
Acquisition of rights of use from GEMA for musical works as stage representation is not possible!
The District Court of Düsseldorf has decided that the Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf must refrain from performing the music composed and arranged by the sound artist Parviz Mir-Ali for the Schauspielhaus Dresden to “Der Idiot” by Fjodor Dostojewski.
The case was based on the following facts: In 2015, the well-known sound artist Parviz Mir-Ali had composed the music for the stage play “Der Idiot” by Fjodor Dostojewski in the production of Matthias Hartmann for the Staatsschauspiel Dresden. In 2016 the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus took over the production from Dresden together with the music composed by Mir-Ali. For the 2016/2017 season, the Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf paid the sound artist an agreed lump sum. The Schauspielhaus refused payments for the further seasons 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 with reference to its payments to GEMA. The plaintiff sound artist saw his copyrights violated with the performances.
The Düsseldorf Regional Court ruled in favour of the plaintiff. […]