What is a "Derivative Work"?
A "derivative work" is any song that takes a preexisting work and uses that material to create a new composition. It differs from a cover song, which is a more straightforward interpretation of an existing composition without significant alterations to the melody or lyrics. Examples of derivative works include: - translations - sampling or replaying (re-recording a segment of the original song) - parodies - medleys - songs arrangements that change lyrics, abridge the music, or make other significant alterations to the original composition. Clearing derivative works is very difficult. The copyright owner can set any price, take all the time they want, and reject the permission altogether. For this reason, it’s important to temper expectations when making a derivative request. For help making a derivative request, check out our Custom Licensing services.
What is a cover song?
A cover song is a new recording of a previously released song that someone else wrote. For example, if you record your band playing your version of a Bob Dylan or Cole Porter song, your new recording is called a "cover song" or "cover". To release a cover song, you need permission from the copyright owner of the composition. This is usually the songwriter or their publisher. On your own, getting permission can be tricky. Luckily, we make it easy to get 100% of the permission you need for your cover songs. Just pay our small fee plus the royalties and we handle everything else for you. You get proof of licensing in your email in just 1-2 business days.
What is a music license?
A license is a formal agreement between the music owner and you that says it's okay for you to use their music. If you use music that other people created, you need to get a license.
What is an "interpolation"?
Interpolation is when you use any portion of lyrics or melody from a copyrighted song that you did not write within an existing composition, original composition, or public domain song. For interpolations, our standard cover song licensing does not apply. Instead, Custom Licensing is required.
What is Fair Use?
Fair Use is an exception in the copyright law that allows small portions of a work to be used without permission for nonprofit, news, educational, or parody purposes. The doctrine is "murky" and often misunderstood. To fall under fair use, only a small portion of the work may be used and the use must not affect the value or marketability of the work. Selling concert recordings or photocopying sheet music without permission would not fall under fair use. Check out the following links for more information on Fair Use.
What is Public Domain?
If a song’s music and lyrics were published before 1925 the song is in the Public Domain and does not require licensing (permission from the copyright owner) for any use. However, even Public Domain songs need to be licensed if you are playing from a copyrighted sheet music arrangement. There is a lot of confusion over what is and is not in the Public Domain (free to use without permission). It is very important that you do the proper research to know - not guess - the Public Domain status of the song. Check out the Public Domain challenge below to see what we’re talking about. Did you score 100% on the first try? If not, consider getting help to determine the Public Domain status of your song. Not sure of the Public Domain status of your song? Let us do free copyright research for you. If the song is Public Domain, we will confirm this. If not, we will help you clear the permission you need.