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?


1 Answer 1


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.

  • 1
    Re: Happy Birthday --that is no longer true as of last month (if you read the copyright section in the link you provided). Jul 14, 2016 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). Jul 14, 2016 at 15:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.