New artists imitate, great artists steal.
(I was asked to write a post explaining the basics of copyright in music. This is not really that post.)
An original musical work is protected by copyright law the instant that the artist (or artists) first records it or writes it down. An unrecorded session doesn’t create any lasting rights, copyright-wise at least. After a first recording, a musician has a protected copyright in both the song as a musical composition and the recorded version of the song as a sound recording. This assumes the songwriter and performer are the same. It seems strange now, but back in the old days music had to be put in notational form to gain copyright protection. In practice, a musical composition and a sound recording are typically owned by different people and different sets of rules and rights apply to each. Read more