Covers, Creativity, and Copyright: The Implications of Copyright on YouTube Covers

An entire YouTube industry runs on musicians and artists creating covers of popular songs. As an avid listener of many such artists, I enjoy their covers; however, I have often wondered about the copyright implications. Since music/lyrics are the creative products of the original artist, are they technically protected from being remade into "covers"? Or is a cover seen as symbiotic with the original work, increasing the original work’s popularity/renown?

I’d love to see an article delineate the copyright implications of YouTube covers and/or the relationships between the original artists and the artists producing covers.

  • It might be interesting also to compare the music/covers industry (which I believe is relatively restrictive) to other Art forms! Also I would love to know how different songwriters (both successful and emerging) view Copyright... As a songwriter I can't imagine most successful artists having a problem with emerging artists using their music to develop their audience/sound, CF their labels/managers shutting Youtube videos down.... – NedMortimer 3 years ago
  • We seem to be in a wild west period of YouTube copyright rules right now! An article discussing fair use of music covers would be a good read. It would also be interesting to see how other types of videos(gaming, edits, etc.) are similar or differ from music covers. – MattWalker 3 years ago
  • It is not uncommon to find other YouTubers using cover versions of original songs, I assume this is a loophole to avoid copyright issues. However, this practice creates a demand for song covers. This might be worth exploring within this article. – BoluBello 3 years ago
  • Great topic. I'm just guessing here, but I suspect that the answer to both answers would be "yes." Songs are protected by copyright laws, and covers do help a song stay alive and relevant. My second guess (I'm not a lawyer) is that copyright laws might need to be looked at closely. It's possible that covered songs on YouTube fall in the category of "fair use," especially if they're not done for profit. – JamesBKelley 3 years ago

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