Thursday, May 28, 2015

Music Business/Law Tips - "Freedom to Remix?"

Last year there was a brouhaha in the US Department of Commerce when it raised the issue of the creation of a compulsory license for derivative works, including remixes, mash-ups and sampling. Essentially, this would mean that anyone could do a remix of a famous song without obtaining the permission of the copyright owner. A similar concept already exists under Copyright Law which allows for a compulsory mechanical license to re-record (i.e., "cover") a song, so long as the cover maintains the fundamental character of the original work. However, a remix can substantially change a song, so most copyright owners want to maintain the right to approve as otherwise it could dilute the artist's and his/her music's brand. For most artists, approval over the use and change of their works is a big deal, and licensing is normally subject to a negotiation on such things as scope of the change, how will it be exploited, fees, royalties, a piece of the copyright in the derivative work, etc. Some artists like The Eagles and Lou Reed historically never approve any uses of their works. Others are fine with it. It's important to note that for some works there is already a Creative Commons right attached which does allow for anyone to remix, mash-up or sample a song. It remains to be seen if this issue will rear its head again in the halls of congress anytime soon as it was under review in committee - things move slowly in Washington. Stay tuned. Ben McLane Esq


  1. My brother is thinking about going into music business for this major, and was wondering what type of things he would need to know. So I decided to research somethings and see if I could help him out. You said that in order to remix a song, you are going to need approval from the owner. I will make sure I let him know about this. This is going to help him out a lot.

  2. This is really weird for me to understand. I remix can change a song dramatically. A cover still has the same notes in it, and yet if a remix sounds too similar it gets taken down. The music laws are not very set in stone. I think this is do to the internet and how it has changes the way you create.

  3. Well this is really interesting because i have remixed a couple of things, I have noticed a couple of emails form the platform saying that I got flagged. I think this is just out of line, there is only one element we are using that is the same and that is the vocals.