Covering an existing song in the music industry was part of the norm especially in the middle of the 19th century. In fact, there were various version of songs such as “White Christmas.” The most popular version of this song was done by Bing Crosby’s and several artist too recorded this song amidst them Drifters in the year 1954. During this period covering songs had a dissimilar purpose unlike in modern days. In ancient times, covering songs was favorable since it facilitated collection of more royalties . In fact, cover records were intended to appeal to the largest market possible. This was achieved by retaining the same attributes used initially when the original version of the song was made. These attributes include chords, song tempo, melody and emotional feel of the song as well as cleaning the lyrics of the song whenever it was deemed necessary. Given that cover records had greater access to airplay, they outsold the originals records (Norman, 2005).
Although cover recording had such great financial gains, it was not done in a straight forward manner hence original label, the artist of the song and the publisher were deprived their rightful gains. In fact, the only payment made to these parties were founded on the basis of records sold. Thus, the covering conglomeratesSavoy Records under the influence Herman Lubinsky and Syd Nathan took initiative to address this unethical act. Although it is legally acceptable for one to make a new version of a particular song with prior arrangement or, payment of royalties to the rights holder, the record covering of the 19th century was implemented without authorization hence ea rip off and violation of copyright regulations (Keith, 2006).
It is technically possible to come up with an exact replica of an existing song, but there are exact covers of known songs that have been produced hence an ethical issue. Additionally, minor customization of an original song to produce a new cover is unethical since the work lacks creativity and portrays and imitation of another artist’s work. This is a legal infringement and should not take place at all.. Production of a cover record that closely copies an existing song requires the artist to apply for a “Notice of User” document with the copyright office before such a cover is released. This is a legal obligation to pay royalties and acknowledge the original song. In fact, there has been cases such as Lavern Baker’s scenario in the 1950s whereby the songwriter has immense benefits from a cover record whereas the artist who produced the original record received no financial gains since the copyright is awarded to the song writer. This is explicitly a form exploitation since the cover record is a recognizable different version of the original song or rather a reproduction (Dale 2004).
Lavern Baker suffered great financial losses when Georgia Gibbs covered her record of Tweedle Dee using exactly the same set of attributes of the original song to produce a new replica. In fact, he used similar arrangement that matched the original song, the same vocalists and the same musicians to make the new cover record. This was unethical and Georgia ought to have been held legally responsible and paid due royalties to Lavern Baker since his production had great resemblance of the original song (Cameron, 2008).
However, it is ethically right and acceptable to produce cover record of existing songs and distribute the m as long as the copyright holder is compensated and other stakeholders received their credits as well. In addition, one must have permission from the relevant authorities such as Harry Fox Agency (HFA). Once the above requirements are met it is absolutely legal and ethical to make record covers of songs originally produced by other parties (Graham & Glyn, 2011).
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