June 30, 2008

Prince - On Cover Songs

Rolling Stone reports that Prince is suing a Norwegian record company for releasing a 5-CD cover album of "the Purple One's songs".  The article describes "the whole thing [as] quite hypocritical of Prince [because he] has no problem with borrowing other people's songs", referring to his cover of Radiohead's "Creep" at Coachella.

But, is the article missing an important distinction?  Cover songs on an album implicate the copying/fixing of the underlying musical composition (i.e., publishing); but, cover songs at a live festival implicate the public performance of the underlying musical composition.  In other words, different rights.  Licensing administration schemes for the two regimes are different, and often involve different players.