A cover song; cover version or simply cover, is a new performance or recording a contemporary or previously recorded, commercially released song, usually by someone other than the original artist.
In other words, What IS a cover song?
A cover song is your recording of a song that you didn't write
... assuming that song had previously been released in the USA, EU and had been registered and published with is author/artists and record labels.
... has the consent of the copyright owner (the songwriter/publisher)
Examples of cover songs:
1. Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
2. Amazing Grace by John Newton written in 1772.
3. Bheegi Bheegi - James did a cover which was originally written by Pritam Chakraborty as the original writer/composer -the song took a new life after James did his own version and gained fame outside of Bangladesh, thanks to the big success of the movie "Gangster". However James must pay the publishing company AND the owner of that song.
4. The same is true IF YOU do any of James Cover songs, you must get la legal agreement in place and pay him!
IF You recorded your own version of a Ed Sheeran or a MegaDeth song, or any song that is someone’s else – YOU HAVE TO PAY THE PUBLISHER (copyright owner) to create copies of that cover song.
The Copyright Act of 1909, United States musicians have had the right to record a version of someone else's previously recorded and released tune, whether it's music alone or music with lyrics. This is applicable worldwide.
1) A license can be negotiated between representatives of the interpreting artist and the copyright holder
2) Recording published tunes can fall under a mechanical license whereby the recording artist pays a standard royalty to the original author/copyright holder through an organization, safe under copyright law even if they do not have any permission from the original author.
3) A composer cannot deny anyone a mechanical license for a new recorded version, the composer has the right to decide who will release the first recording of a song.
4) Live performances of copyrighted songs are typically arranged through performing rights organizations such as ASCAP or BMI.