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Any legal issues involved in covering songs?

Cyath

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So I want to start a YT channel for song covers, because I love to sing. But I'm not sure about the legalities involved? I assume that since covers are copyrighted material it would be technically illegal...but I see tons of covers on YT nonetheless.

Perhaps it is only a problem if you want to monetize? I put up one or two songs and the warning message I got was that since the song is copyrighted in some territories it can't be viewed there.

I thought I would ask here for expert advice :) I just want to share my covers with others...it would be nice if I could make some money from them though!
 

Crown

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Moved to the copyright / claims / legal forum. :)
 

UKHypnotist

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You need to obtain a Master Synch License if you really want to be safe. Posting any unlicensed copyright media is a violation of YouTube's Terms of Service, as well as International Copyright Law.

To license the music you wish to cover, you need to find out which of the many Performing Rights Organizations holds the licensing rights for the songs. Then you apply for the Master Synchronization License, which you need in order to do worldwide audio/video broadcasting of your cover, and pay the necessary fees.

If you get a copyright claim or strike after this, all you need to do is supply your licensing statement in your dispute or counter-notification.
 

Cyath

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But I see tons of people post covers to YT, including people who monetize them for a living. How come YT hasn't cracked down on them?
 

UKHypnotist

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In the past, YouTube has allowed Content ID claims to be made on already monetized channels which allowed revenue sharing between the copyright owner and the cover poster.

Today, you cannot be monetized with a channel which hasn't already passed YouTube's Compliance Review, if that channel contains multiple copyright claims. In fact, YouTube has begun both demonetization of monetized channels which have multiple Content ID claims against them, and at times, termination of channels with multiple copyright claims.

You simply cannot use other channels as a yardstick for your own. That is like saying:

"But Mr X robbed that bank and got away with it, so why can't I do the same thing?"

From YouTube's Terms of Service:

"If you choose to upload Content, you must not submit to the Service any Content that does not comply with this Agreement or the law. For example, the Content you submit must not include third-party intellectual property (such as copyrighted material) unless you have permission from that party or are otherwise legally entitled to do so."

Without a Master Sync License, you aren't legally entitled to post a cover song video to YouTube.
 
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Cyath

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So that means all the channels which are already monetized are in danger of having their livelihoods terminated? That's not great for them. So YT can take down your stuff at any time if you have 3rd party content?
 

Tito Tims Videos

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They can certainly demonetize a vid, or give the money to the claimant (more common, I think). Here in the Philippines karaoke is everywhere. So many times I have to just turn off the sound of my vid and do voice overs. I had one recently that was a bad midi of an unrecognizable (to me) song, no singing, just bad midi - it was claimed during the upload process.

If snippets of background music can be claimed, you can be sure that a full cover can be claimed. You may not get a copyright strike - but you also will likely not get the ad revenue.
 

UKHypnotist

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So that means all the channels which are already monetized are in danger of having their livelihoods terminated? That's not great for them. So YT can take down your stuff at any time if you have 3rd party content?
Yes it does, and yes YT can take down your videos at any time if they are in violation of copyright law; but then if those channel owners had actually read and adhered to the Terms of Service, Community Guidelines, and AdSense Content policy, all of which forbid uploading of third party copyright media, those channels wouldn't be in danger of losing monetization in the first place.

They would have instead, obeyed the rules and not uploaded what didn't belong to them.

Tell you what...go to the link below, and in the search box in the bottom right column, do a search for "Channel demonetized for reused content"; then do another search for monetization not approved reused content. The link leads to the official YouTube Support Community.

 
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Cyath

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I don't quite get it though...I still see channels which have millions of view based on third party content. Do you mean that YT is going to take those down as well? Or were they before YT started cracking down on things?