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Releasing a song twice (there’s a catch)

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Releasing a song twice (there’s a catch)

Postby guyjames » Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:09 pm

Can someone please provide me guidance so I can write up a contract appropriately, or know what to look for if the other party provides me a contract.

Situation: I recorded an original tune with the intention of it being on my EP. Along the way I got invited to be a part of a separate collaboration record that is going to be a big complication album of different producers and writers. They asked to use my tune and I’m into the idea of letting them use it however... I want to use it on my EP as well, which will be released after the compilation record though. The version of my tune in the compilation will feature a different drummer and the addition of keyboards on my ep, but the guitar and bass tracks would be the same.

Can someone please advise me on what I need to do to ensure I can release my original on my EP still and not run into publishing or copy write issues?

For instance, should I copy-write the tune before its mixed and mastered and before the compilation record is released? Etc.
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Re: Releasing a song twice (there’s a catch)

Postby blinddrew » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:08 pm

disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. If it's really important to you, get a lawyer.

That aside... ;)
Copyright exists as soon as an idea is fixed in form. I.e. recorded or written down.
But, with music, copyright exists on the composition and a separate copyright exists on the recording.
What you can do, therefore, depends on what's happening with those copyrights when the compilation is pulled together. If the requirement is that you sign over both those copyrights, and they're not willing to negotiate a non-exclusive clause on the song copyright, then you're pretty stuffed.
If they're only interested in the copyright of the recording, then you can either try and negotiate a non-exclusive approach for the bits that you want to re-use, or just re-record the whole thing.
Basically it will come down to what rights they require to include it on the compilation. Generally most commercial places of any size will require complete transfer of both copyrights as it's the only sensible way they have of managing things and ensuring that they don't subsequently get sued along the way.
N.B. that wouldn't necessarily stop you from recording it on your own EP, but you would need to re-record everything and you'd need to agree a mechanical cover license from the new copyright owner / The Harry Fox Agency.

CS70 may have a bit more to add if I've missed anything, but I refer you again to my initial disclaimer. :)
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Re: Releasing a song twice (there’s a catch)

Postby CS70 » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:21 pm

There's a difference between copyright on a composition and copyright on a recording of a composition.

As composer/lyricist/producer etc you have copy right of what you create. A particular recording of it may well be property of someone else (and they have the copy rights of it). but you are due a royalty. To collect them you usually delegate your copyright to a publisher which, for a percentage, does the collecting job.

Your creation can be used by record companies (labels) which effect the production of specific recordings of it to play on various devices (and pay mechanical royalties to the publisher) and bands that want to play it (and for which the venue where they perform pays a performance royalty to a PRO, which in turn send part of the proceeding to you or your publisher). If a band wants to make a new recording of your composition it needs to pay a license to your publisher.

If you are both the owner of the composition and the owner of a recording you will get both the composition/license royalties and any licensing money for sales. If you play your own music in public, you get the performance royalty as well.

So in order to avoid copyright issues, you have to register your composition with your PRO (you need to become a member if you aren't). In theory the title is enough, but to have a solid case in case someone "steals" it, in every country you can add different remedies (in the US, register with the copyright office for example). As in your case you would be acknowledged as author also by the label making the compilation (if I understand you well), it's probably not a problem.

For a specific recording, you need to "own" it - be the label or have a contract with the label. The label usually will own the recording, so you cannot for example sell it to another label. If you play for it, you can be either a "session man" - being paid a one-off for the specific job - or agree with the label on a percentage of the sales and so on.

Since the composition is yours you usually can create any number of recordings of it without problems. Each of them will be published by a label, which will own it.

In case of your EP, as often happens these days, you'll likely will be the label for that specific recording.
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Re: Releasing a song twice (there’s a catch)

Postby Wonks » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:24 pm

This may all depend on where you are. I believe achieving copyright is different in the US (where I think you have to register it with a particular agency) to here in the UK (where it's as (or very close to) what Drew says). And other countries will also vary.
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Re: Releasing a song twice (there’s a catch)

Postby blinddrew » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:44 pm

In the US copyright exists as soon as the work is fixed, but if you want to sue, you need to have registered it (with the copyright office as CS70 says) before you take any legal action.
Obviously registering also helps with any challenges about who produced what first.
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Re: Releasing a song twice (there’s a catch)

Postby guyjames » Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:38 am

Thanks guys! I’m new to this, it’s my first go at an ep release and this collaboration has been a little confusing knowing if I’ll be safe to use my track again. I’m using distro kid and BMI.
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