A friend recently introduced me to a website called Cover Me, in which contributors write about cover versions of songs. There are artist-cover anthologies, lists of “Five Good Covers” of oft-covered songs, and entire albums’ worth of cover versions. Accompanying text describes the songs, the original artists, and the various cover versions. Sometimes the “art” is in finding cover versions of obscure songs; other times it’s in selecting among many cover versions of better-known songs and putting together an interesting collection.
Entire albums featured on this site include Led Zeppelin III, XTC’s Skylarking, and several Ramones albums. The site is run by Ray Padgett, a Brooklynite whose day job is at a small PR/social media firm.
Now here’s the conundrum. All of the song titles link to audio of the cover versions. Some are simply links to files on SoundCloud, YouTube, or other hosting sites, while others are links to iTunes or Amazon purchase pages. But many others are downloadable MP3s hosted on the site, with embedded MP3 players for streaming the music. Most of these tracks are available on YouTube; some are available on Spotify.
My friend told me that the site will take the MP3 files down when requested, although it does not have a written copyright policy. The site does not carry ads and has no apparent source of revenue; the contributors are volunteers.
What do you think? Fair use or not?