Derivative works

What is a “Derivative Work”?  Can I distribute one?

A "derivative work" is any song that takes a pre-existing work and uses that material to create a new composition. It differs from a cover song, which is a more straightforward interpretation of an existing composition without significant alterations to the melody or lyrics.

In the musical realm, examples of derivative works include:

  • translations
  • sampling or replaying (re-recording a segment of the original song)
  • parodies
  • medleys
  • songs arrangements that change lyrics, abridge the music, or make other significant alterations to the original composition.

You CANNOT distribute a derivative work without the permission of the copyright holder of the pre-existing work. Unlike with cover songs, the copyright holder CAN deny you permission to create a derivative work for any reason.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A Derivative Work – such as a sample – is NOT able to be cleared by a Cover Song Licensing service like Easy Song License, Loudr or CD Baby Cover Song Licensing.

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