June 17, 2013 - submitted by Lucas, United States of America

Q. Hey Oracle,
This may seem like a random question, but I hope you can answer it.
You've talked before about making covers of songs (specifically Coldplay songs) But what are the rules when it comes to covering/performing or even recording an unreleased song?

For example, I'm a huge fan of a song called Until the Water Flows Over (I suppose it's also known as Solid Ground) that was never released (why it wasn't, I don't think I'll ever understand). It was played live once, I believe. And the instrumental leaked online some time ago.
With what we have of the song, could I be able to cover/perform or record a variation of this song without any problems? If not, what could I do about it?

Thanks Oracle!


The Oracle replies:

Rules for cover versions aren't the exact same in every territory but generally speaking you can cover anything but you can't record a song that hasn't been recorded by the originators.

Playing it live is also tricky because unreleased songs aren't registered and therefore royalties and monies earned from live performance wouldn't reach the writers.

A song in existence whether recorded or not is still copyrighted to the publisher/label/artist...