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Are artists that sell cover songs (e.g. Sleeping at Last, Boyce Avenue, Pentatonix, Jasmine Thompson, etc.) required to pay royalties to original artist of said song?

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If a song is copyrighted, a recording artist does need to pay royalties to the owner of the copyright. This may be the original author(s) (not necessarily the artist who recorded the original version, as obviously many artits record songs authored by other people) or another entity (normally a corporation) to which the copyright was sold.

As a far fetched example, the copyright to Happy Birthday has been claimed over the years by Warner Brother and they still get a lot of money each year from royalties resulting from the use of these lyrics in films, tv and recordings.

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    Re: Happy Birthday --that is no longer true as of last month (if you read the copyright section in the link you provided). – Chris Sunami Jul 14 '16 at 15:03
  • I said (or meant, if I was not clear) that they claimed and have been collecting. As I understand the latest court decision is yet not definitive, although it points the way toward ending the claim. Anyway I just mentioned that case as an extreme example of how copyright works (or doesn't work, depending on your perspective). – José David Jul 14 '16 at 15:30

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