Originally posted by Cerise:Thanks Paul!
You're more than welcome!
BTW, I'd like to try my hand at this copyright question, since I've done some consulting in that area. And while I don't know all the details of UK copyright law, it's much the same as US, since both are signatories to the Berne Convention, the int'l agreement which has certain standards which all signatories must meet.
Of all the "bundle of rights" that copyright holders enjoy, the specific one in question here is the right to "create derivative works;" that is, to produce variations of the copyrighted work.
That right belongs to ALL authors of a work; if there's just one author, he or she is the only one who can authorize it. If there are five, all five can authorize it individually, or in any combination.
The fact that Warren (and maybe others; I haven't looked at the entire history of the site yet), who was one of the authors of the songs, or at least a lot of them, has not only given permission to members here, but encouraged them (us) to create derivative works, makes any version of them OK.
Also, the Berne Convention, as well as historical US law, limits the degree to which either copyright holders or authors can limit COVER works to the first sale.
IOW, if I write something, sing it in public, but don't want to grant license to it to anyone to record it, I can see to it that it's never recorded by anyone.
Once I DO license it, though, and that work is publicly released, that's the end of my control over who records a version of it -- not MY version, but their OWN. ANYONE is allowed to record and release it, as long as they don't "destroy the work" in the process (for example, inserting insulting obscenities after every mention of the word "I," thus making the original artist a source of contempt), and as long as they pay licensing royalties (a few cents per recording) to the copyright holder, whether that's the author or the recording or publishing company who took copyright when it was publicly distributed it.
SO, from what I know (and it's certainly nowhere near everything...) no one here who's done a cover is in any jeopardy, just as they don't release it (as Cerise noted) for profit without paying licensing fees.
That leaves just one questionable area, and that's in the case of people like myself who didn't just, in my own entry, use the song, but also used the sounds for which the record company paid. This is a potential issue because who holds copyright on the SONGS and who holds them on the SOUND RECORDINGS is often different, and usually, it's the record company who's the copyright holder in the sound recordings.
This is the area where the suits over sampling have come from.
However, record companies are so much less associated in the public mind with released albums than are the artists that usually if artists say, publicly, "go ahead and do it," as Warren fundamentally did in asking people to strip things down to the vocals, record companies nearly always shrug and give it up, since they're going to be facing four sets of opponents -- the artist, the creator of the new work from the sound recording, copyright freedom advocates AND the public -- if they try to interfere with what's been granted.
SO.... it's my impression that we're on safe ground here. And if Island or Chrysalis or later companies write and say "desist!" that's a simple matter of taking down a couple of files. As long as no one tries to profit, I don't believe, to the best of my limited knowledge, that anyone has anything to worry about. I do appreciate the question being raised, though -- that's good citizenship.