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Thread: Copyright Laws + Karaoke

  1. #1
    chuchosay is offline Junior Member
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    Apr 2000
    Cedar Falls, IA, USA
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    Copyright Laws + Karaoke

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    I have been asked by a few different people to record their voice on top of karaoke music that they have. So I believe I need to be worried about copyright laws.

    Am I liable if I record something that is copyright for someone, or are they liable? At what point is the copyright of a karaoke CD being broken? If the product is sold? If it is distributed to people? Or if it just recorded?


  2. #2
    housepig is offline Junior Member
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    Aug 2002
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    An individual can record themselves singing over Karaoke without any copyright repercussions, if it's for their own personal use. If I go into a studio and record a rap over a Miles Davis loop, as long as it's for personal use, I'm okay.

    Once I sell this to another person (or give it away*) I am in violation of copyright, unless I secure rights to the loop. But the recordist is not violating anything - he is not offering the recording for sale.

    If the person singing over the Karaoke backing puts it on a disc and distributes it, without obtaining the rights, they are guilty of copyright infringement, not the recordist.

    If I go into a Kinko's and ask Kinko's to make me 50 copies of People magazine, and I go and sell those copies, Kinko's won't get charged... I will.

    (*giving away pirated material is not defensible because you aren't making any money off of it, it's still violating copyright.)

    hope this helps.

    - housepig

  3. #3
    subdirect is offline Newbie
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    what if the studio provides the files

  4. #4
    Dani Pace's Avatar
    Dani Pace is offline Why 2K?
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    East Flat Rock, N.C. USA
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    You got me thinking!!! If a DJ gets paid for playing copyrighted materal for karaoke shouldn't he have to pay royalties? After all copyrights are supposed to protect the owner from unlicensed use for profit.
    The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know. [url][/url]

  5. #5
    guinsu is offline Senior Member
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    I think when you buy the karaoke CDs you get a license to use them for public performance with people singing over them. Basically the karaoke companies sorted out the legal end, otherwise DJs would get shut down left and right. This license probably only covers the intended use, i.e. people singing over the music in a live perfomance setting, or any personal use.

  6. #6
    SouthSIDE Glen's Avatar
    SouthSIDE Glen is offline
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    Chicago, IL. USA
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    Also for live performance, it's usually the venue and not the artist who is responsible for feeding the ASCAP/BMI meters. The theater/club/bar/whatever fills out a yearly form where they rough estimate the number of copyrighted songs will be played there in the year. That figure is multiplied by a cost per song and that total becomes a major part of the venue's license cost.

    Glen J. Stephan,
    SouthSIDE Multimedia Productions


  7. #7
    johnnymegabyte is offline Force of Nature
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    Toronto ( Scarborough )
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    In Canada, bars, clubs, etc that have live music, DJ or karaoke must obtain a performance license, from SOCAN

    Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada
    SOCAN is a performing rights society. Its role is to license the users of music in return for copyright fees. It then distributes these fees as royalties to SOCAN members in Canada and the thousands of foreign music copyright owners whose works the society also licenses in Canada.

    For information about the SOCAN, click here

    or the FAQ


    I have seen karaoke discs, and they all say "For Home Use" or something like that. Thus, in a business establishment, the establishment requires the licence to play music.

    United States ASCAP
    United States BMI
    United States SESAC

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