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.
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.
When a musician samples, he takes fragments from other people’s songs. Does he thereby violate copyright or is that freedom of art? The BGH has decided. Here an overview of the legal dispute from an article of the German https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/bgh-urheberrecht-101.html). In music, sampling refers to the process of using a part of an – already finished – sound or music recording in a new, often musical context. Nowadays, this is usually done with a hardware or software sampler, i.e., the selected sound sample is usually digitized and stored so that it can be further processed with audio programs.
Why have they been arguing about this in court for years? A german rapper, singer and music producer thinks to this day that he was allowed to simply take the “music snippet” into his song. Legally, the issue is the conflict between artistic freedom and the rights one has as a producer of a sound carrier. These are the so-called copyrights and ancillary copyrights: “The author of a sound record has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute and make the sound carrier available to the public,” the Copyright Act states.
What can we now expect from the BGH’s ruling? With its decision, the BGH must implement the guidelines of the ECJ judges. After hearing the case in January, it does not look like the judges in Karlsruhe will simply “wave through” the rapper´s sampling. So the question remains whether the artistic sound sequence in the song is recognizable or not. To have this clarified, the BGH could refer the case back to the Hamburg Higher Regional Court. If Pelham loses, the case could even go back to the Federal Constitutional Court. After all, he won there in 2016. Either way, the principles laid down by the courts affect the hip-hop and music scene as a whole.
Quick Check on the most Frequent Asked Questions of the internet
Are self-composed songs automatically protected by copyright?
German copyright law automatically protects music or sheet music and song lyrics.
What has copyright to do with music?
The musical work is protected under copyright law as soon as it is created, i.e. when the song is played for the first time at rehearsals or when the lyrics and melody are written down.
Has copyright on music a period of expiration?
Copyright on music lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. After that, the statute of limitations expires and it is considered to be in the public domain.
Strangers are using a self-composed song without my permission. What shall I do?
In this case, there may be a copyright infringement. It is possible to take legal action against this. Do not waste time. Contact a lawyer immediately.
What about YouTube? Can I download music for free and sell it online?
The answer is definitely NO. Illegally downloading music from YouTube and eventually selling it or using it without permission is a crime and it can be punished legally. Anyone who uploads a self-composed song on Youtube is considered to be the author. This means that the copyright law for music applies. In addition, anyone who includes other people’s music in a video may be committing a copyright infringement. Therefore, it should be checked beforehand who the author is and whether permission is necessary. A lawyer could definitely help you clarify every question you have.
Copyright infringement only occurs if I commercially exploit the music, right?
NO, that is not correct. If you use pieces of music protected by copyright law and offer them for free download on your website, this is also an infringement. If unauthorised distribution takes place, it is irrelevant whether it is of a commercial nature or not.
What if you decide to write a music album… and someone else decides to publish the same music you have just written? Is it just a case? Did they copied you? What does the law says about these kind of legal disputes?
The author of a music work X decides to sue the author of the song Y, because the music is alleged to be copied from the pre-existing work X. This is
This is a real case that the OLG Hamburg solved with a strong and firm tribunal decision.
The Hamburg Regional Court dismissed the case. Yes, you read that right. In fact, it is true that the X work of music own the right of protect ability, however, the composition of the Y music had minor deviations. The possibility of double creation was thus given. It could not be proved that the protectable guitar melody was taken over from the pre-existing work.
The second expert of the Court of Appeal referred to the frequent occurrence of the chord sequence (Turnaorund) and that the guitar figures could easily be derived from finger exercises. A double creation was therefore very likely.
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