#1
Say I have an arrangement of a Beatles tune, Yesterday for example since that's the one in question. It's my arrangement of a Beatles song. Is it legal for me to sell a recording of me playing this?
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#5
There's a couple of issues here:

1. Can you sell a recording of a cover?

2. Can you have copyright entitlements to arrangements of other people's songs?

The answer is yes to both. In relation to recording and selling a cover, as mentioned above, you have to pay royalties to the owner/s of the original song.

In relation to arrangements, there have been cases where an artists arrangement of a song has been so unique that they now receive copyright entitlements in relation to the arrangement. HOWEVER, this is not a common occurrence. The only time that actually comes to mind is Simon and Garfunkel's arrangement of El Condor Pasa, which itself is in the public domain, but they have copyright royalties to their arrangement of it.

Of course the real question is "why would people buy your version when they can buy the original?".
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#6
So I would need to contact whoever had the copyright and pay royalties? Might as well continue selling my own stuff.

Quote by AlanHB

Of course the real question is "why would people buy your version when they can buy the original?".


And because people have offered to pay me both for the sheet music and the mp3s of my acoustic arrangement of these pieces. Mine are nothing like the originals.
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#7
Quote by Artemis Entreri
So I would need to contact whoever had the copyright and pay royalties? Might as well continue selling my own stuff.


And because people have offered to pay me both for the sheet music and the mp3s of my acoustic arrangement of these pieces. Mine are nothing like the originals.


If they're "nothing like" the originals, it may be possible that they're original. Consider the Rage Against the Machine Renegades cover album - they're nothing like the originals. However if your version is more different in the way that Hendrix's version of All Along the Watchtower is different from Dylan, well you'll get no rights in relation to that.
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#8
Quote by AlanHB
If they're "nothing like" the originals, it may be possible that they're original. Consider the Rage Against the Machine Renegades cover album - they're nothing like the originals. However if your version is more different in the way that Hendrix's version of All Along the Watchtower is different from Dylan, well you'll get no rights in relation to that.



They share pretty much only a recognizable melody, which may be too much. But yeah, Rage dramatically altered all of those songs.
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#9
Quote by Artemis Entreri
They share pretty much only a recognizable melody, which may be too much. But yeah, Rage dramatically altered all of those songs.


Well considering that the melody is the most recognisable (and copyrightable) element of a song (the "only" copyrightable part of a song in some jurisdictions), your versions may be too close to the original.

With all legal arguments aside, I believe that Simon and Garfunkel succeeded in their copyright of the arrangement because it the writer was long dead, copyright expired, and nobody knew who the relatives were - quite simply Simon and Garfunkel had nobody telling them that it wasn't their arrangement.

However you're trying to copyright an arrangement of a Beatles song. I can only imagine the legal might you would come across if they were to oppose your claim.
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#10
Quote by AlanHB

However you're trying to copyright an arrangement of a Beatles song. I can only imagine the legal might you would come across if they were to oppose your claim.


It would be like Joe vs Microsoft.

Quote by AlanHB

With all legal arguments aside, I believe that Simon and Garfunkel succeeded in their copyright of the arrangement because it the writer was long dead, copyright expired, and nobody knew who the relatives were - quite simply Simon and Garfunkel had nobody telling them that it wasn't their arrangement.


In that respect, it would be like a band arrangement of, say, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. God only knows who owns the melody, and in any case, it is surely past the limitation of 90 years following the death of the composer. The melody itself is public domain, and thus, free from copyright.

However, you open up your "beginning band method book" or whatever, and there will be an arrangement for it. The arrangement is what has the copyright - not the melody.

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