Copyright lawyer in Massachusetts
March 30, 2018 9:26 AM   Subscribe

A few local-music podcasts would like to use a cover song I posted on their podcasts. All their podcasts are distributed on Spotify and Apple Music. I’d like to get the rights for the song, but after reaching out to the publishing company that owns (?) the song, I think I may be in over my head. I’ve started looking for a lawyer to help me deal with the rights, but I have no idea what to look for. Has anyone gone through this? What should I look for in a copyright lawyer?
posted by pxe2000 to Law & Government (3 answers total)
You own the copyright for your performance. You do not own the copyright to the song itself. It seems unlikely that the owner(s) of the song's copyrights will assign those rights to to you.

In the ordinary course of things, if you were to monetize your cover recording, you would obtain a mechanical license for the song and pay a royalty fee. That fee is typically based on your projected revenues from the performance of the song, or may have a different structure depending on many factors. Copyright holders are required to grant mechanical licenses if the fees are paid.

In any event, if there are podcasts that want to use the recording of your cover performance, you can "license" your copyright to them simply by allowing them to use it. This would cover the copyright that you own, namely the recording of your performance. Other than that, it's not really your lookout. If the podcasts want to use or monetize any recording of that song, they are the ones who need to obtain a mechanical license from the copyright holder(s), not you. Since some monetization is inherent to the Spotify and Apple Music platforms, I assume that some permission would need to be obtained by those podcasters. This is not your job.

If the idea is that you will be paid for use of your recording, then yeah, you should obtain a mechanical license from the copyright holder(s).

Harry Fox Agency is a good place to go for a mechanical license.

(IANAL but I am a performing artist with familiarity in these matters.)
posted by slkinsey at 10:21 AM on March 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you for letting me know what the correct language is.
posted by pxe2000 at 10:52 AM on March 30, 2018

I have a friend who does copyright/IP law in Boston for Booth Sweet (he is Booth) and they might be worth asking about this sort of thing.
posted by jessamyn at 10:53 AM on March 30, 2018

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