Slash's current band Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators plays some songs from Guns N' Roses. Doesn't GN'R have the copyrights of the song?


A band rarely owns their own copyright.
It is most likely held by a dedicated publishing company, even if that publishing company was set up as sole rights owner by the band members themselves - famous one, Deep Purple - Purple Management & Purple Records.

Without going into any particular legal ramifications [which are well outside the scope of this site], very simply…

Once a song has been published, it may be covered by anyone, so long as the regular terms of performance & broadcast are followed.
This includes bands in pubs & the former members of the original band that wrote the song.

From Comments - it is quite possible that an album may have the band name shown as composer/author, but 'behind the scenes' at Performing Rights organisations who are responsible for protecting the song as an entity, the full real names of the actual composers/authors will be listed

The examples used, of U2 & Duran Duran - though the records may credit 'the band' as composer/author in each case, the actual writing credits are listed as all the members of each band. This information can be easily found on any sheet music, cover version or karaoke track & is not confidential.

... or occasionally a registered alias can be used.

Best examples I can find for aliases…
Searching the PRS database [not public] for 'Vestan Pance' correctly finds songs written by Clint Mansell [Pop Will Eat Itself].
Searching for 'Dr Winston O'Boogie' finds John Lennon.
[the information linking those particular aliases is already in the public domain, so no confidential information is being leaked by this 'revelation']

As far as I'm aware [I have nothing except a lack of proof of a negative to back me up & I'm not a lawyer] a company or band etc cannot be the legal composer of a song.

  • 1
    I would also add that usually it's the individual songwriters who gets credited for a song, not the band. – Meaningful Username Jun 29 '15 at 15:36
  • For sure - an entity can not claim the credit, it must be a human. – Tetsujin Jun 29 '15 at 15:37
  • @Tetsujin That's not true, there are some bands that credit the entire song to the band name. The obvious ones I can think of at the moment are Duran Duran and U2. I assume that they are somehow able to get the Copyright payment made to a legal entity called "U2" which is owned by the members of the band in some manner which is acceptable to all the individual members. – Lefty Jun 29 '15 at 19:32
  • @Lefty - what they write on the album sleeve & what they report to the PRS (or any country's rights organisation) may be entirely different things. I checked, at almost random, for "With or Without You" & "Girls on Film" both of which are registered under each author's full real names with the PRS [all 4 members of each band]. (Their database is so slow I don't have the patience to check any more;) – Tetsujin Jun 29 '15 at 19:47
  • @Tetsujin That's interesting, I didn't know that PRS data was in the public domain so have only ever had record labels, album sleeves etc to indicate. I thought it was a legal requirement that the record label carried the name of the registered composer, apparently not. Interesting that one of Duran's 5 members is NOT on the PRS data. Can you tell me where I can see the PRS register database please? – Lefty Jun 29 '15 at 20:01

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