f thorbur asks:
I was wondering if I wanted to do a cover of an already copyrighted song, how would I go about getting permission to record the copyrighted song? Would I go to the record company? Or to the artist's agent? Is it easy to get permission to do this?
A song is only licensed by the publisher the first time it is recorded. Once a record has been released a legal statute called "A compulsory license" comes into effect. This means you may record a cover version of any song in the known universe without permission. You are still liable to pay the statutory rate for that song on every copy sold. The current rate is 9.1 cents a song. If it is a new song that has never been recorded you must contact the publisher and secure a license. Mechanical royalties for songs in the public domain accrue to the recording artist. Copyrights expire fifty years after the death of the songwriter and then enter the public domain.