Your Questions: Is It OK To Play Unofficial Edits Of Unreleased Tracks?

| Read time: 3 mins
Last updated 8 November, 2017

18

2017

Ableton
With today’s tools, producing, re-editing, remixing and mashing up music is easier than ever – but how legal is it to then DJ with the results?

A Digital DJ Tips reader, who I’ll keep anonymous, writes: “So a friend of mine made an edit / extended a track that hasn’t been released yet and sent it to me. I love the track but the thing is that it’s going to be released on quite a big progressive house/electro house label later this year.

“So as my friend doesn’t own the rights to the track, maybe that would say that I can’t play it live. But on the other hand he edited it so since it’s his work (based on another person’s work), so maybe it would be OK to play it, since he’s happy for me to do so? Help please!”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Well a few thoughts spring to mind on this one (and bear in mind I have no idea where you are in the world, consult a lawyer before doing anything, etc. etc.) 😉

Firstly, unless you’re playing the tune at a huge festival or similar high profile event, the chances of anything coming of you doing so are miniscule. Once it’s played, it’s played. Anyway, it’s often easier to ask for forgiveness after the event than for permission beforehand!

DJs and producers have re-edited music for as long as they’ve been able to, and it’s a legitimate way both of breathing life into the music and making your stamp as a DJ…

The fact is that while your friend may have a promo-only copy of the tune meant just for him (you don’t actually say how he got the unreleased tune), DJs and producers have re-edited music for as long as they’ve been able to. It’s a legitimate way both of breathing life into the music and making your stamp as a DJ. Also, frankly, we’re weekend warriors, and anything at all that can give us an edge in our sets, as long as no animals get hurt in the making of it etc, is often fine. Just my view.

You could always ask the original producer of the tune for his or her permission. You’d be surprised how willing if not downright enthusiastic people can be about these kinds of things.

Case in point: One of our star Scratching For Controller DJs pupils, John Simmons, did a re-edit of someone’s track, threw it up in a couple of places, didn’t think much more of it, then heard it played in Ibiza to open a DJ set…. by the original artist!

If it were me, I’d do it (then buy the original track when it comes out to show support, of course). If you’re doing it for love of the music not for your own commercial gain (eg using it on a mix CD that you then try and sell), you’re in the right in my book. I have to say again, I’m not a lawyer etc – this is just advice from personal experience.

Do you think it’s OK for DJs to re-edit tunes themselves for them and their friends to play, even when they tune isn’t even released yet? Is anything acceptable in the dog-eat-dog world of constructing awesome DJ sets? Or should the line be drawn somewhere? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Now go to
Over To You: Can I Legally DJ In Public With Digital Music?
New UK Copyright Law May Kill Unpopular Digital DJ Licence
Why You Shouldn’t Post Your DJ Mixes On SoundCloud

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