Work B is based on Work A; should Work A songwriters be credited on Work B?


Continuing the discussion from edit #56018268.

Work A was written by Artist A.
Artist B made a “cover”, which is different enough to be a new work, Work B. Should Artist A be credited as a songwriter for Work B, which they did not write anything new for or is the Work B is based on Work A relationship sufficient?

And if we credit songwriters of based on works to new works, where do we draw the line?

Artist Z wrote Work Z which samples Work Y by Artist Y, which in turn samples Work X by Artist X, which… , which in turn samples Work A by Artist A.
Should Artists A-Y all be credited on Work Z?


If Artist B is doing a cover of Artist A’s work, then Artist A is still the writer of the original work. In that case I would say yes, they should still be credited as the writer.

If Artist X is sampling small chunks of Artist A’s work then no need to credit A as a writer.

I would say it is about looking at the work produced and seeing what percentage of it is similar to the original. A cover version generally follows the original in words and\or music closely. Whereas when a sample is used then the new product being created has a majority of the new creator’s work, so the new creator is the writer. (Though the samples should still be separately credited)

I see using a “sample” like using an instrument. A 10 second live trumpet solo being included in a track is just the same as adding a 5 second sample from a different track. The creator of the new works is collecting sounds that sound good to them as a new piece - whether that is from a live instrument or a chunk of someone else’s creation.

Whereas someone doing a cover version of someone else’s work is implying they like that original well enough to want to perform it. So that case should acknowledge the original creator.


I usually credit everyone that wrote the work as well as anyone that wrote works that were sampled.
This is what usually happens when looking up credits in the works databases.
You do occasionally get long dead artists credited as writers of modern songs because they heavily sampled an older song and the writing credits include them as a writer.
This is something that artist occasionally sue over so they usually do the right thing and credit everyone.

For a list of works databases look at the ones linked from the wiki:


I get that the music industry has to do it like that - though to be honest they usually get sued over not paying for samples/covers/etc, not so much for not crediting correctly.
I just don’t think that we should do it like that.
If Miles Davis is credited as the sole writer of one of his songs in all albums it appears on (because Miles Davis was an arrogant a**), but credible sources write that Joe Zawinul actually wrote most of the song - then we stick to the facts and not the liner notes right?