Do I need to pay royalties on cover versions of songs for our CD?

If you are based in the UK and are producing a single or album for yourself or your band that will be sold for profit, then you need to be aware that all written music content from other writers and artists are covered by the Berne Convention and works from other signatory countries (which include the USA and UK) are automatically covered by copyright protection (50 years from death of the author/writer – not the musician, unless they also wrote it).

In the UK you can pay PRS for Music for an MCPS Limited Manufacture Licence if you are an unsigned band/performer by going here:

http://www.prsformusic.com/users/recordedmedia/cdsandvinyl/Pages/LimitedManufactureLicence%28LM%29.aspx

Or if you are a small record company then you would need to apply for an MCPS AP1 or AP2 Agreement:

http://www.prsformusic.com/users/recordedmedia/cdsandvinyl/Pages/AP1AP2.aspx

The licenses are required for cover versions no matter what quantity of CDs are being produced if they are going to be sold for profit.

If you are not planning on selling the CDs for profit and they are going to be given away as promotional items, then you would still need to apply for the relevant license above, but would not have to pay any royalties if you were producing fewer than the following:

Albums – 1,500 copies

Singles – 3,000 copies

Promotional copies are not subject to a MCPS royalty provided that certain guidelines are followed:

  • PROMOTIONAL COPY – NOT FOR SALE should be displayed on the CD sleeve/packaging as either a non-removable sticker or a non-erasable notice.
  • Promotional copies should be supplied free of charge to a broadcaster, DJ, critic or other relevant party for promotional use only (i.e. to review or broadcast).

For further information, please view this page on the PRS for Music site.

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