Monday, December 31, 2018

The end of VIVA

Probably almost nobody will miss the music TV station VIVA which has stopped broadcasting at 14:00 today.

On December 1, 1993, VIVA started as the German competitor of the English speaking MTV Europe. It was created as a platform for German music in particular. Shows were presented by Stefan Raab, Heike Makatsch and Mola Adebisi. Jessica Schwarz, Matthias Opdenhövel, Klaas Heufer-Umlauf, Oliver Pocher, Nils Bokelberg, Sarah Kuttner, Enie van Meiklokjes, Charlotte Roche and Tobias Schlegl were all well-known to VIVA.

In 2004, the station was taken over by Viacom, who also owned the competitor MTV.
After MTV had switched to pay-TV, VIVA also aired programs from MTV as reruns from 2011 on. Since 2014, VIVA has stopped broadcasting 24 hours a day, sharing its channel mainly with Comedy Central. From 2:00 to 14:00, VIVA barely reached its target audience.

Viacom said VIVA had been profitable, but Viacom wanted to focus on its three core brands MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

"The station, launched as a German alternative to MTV, shaped the youth of the 90s and 2000s. VIVA was the YouTube and Spotify of a generation of young people who paid internet access per minute" the media magazine said. The farewell to VIVA came in an unimpressive way: no live program, but only the canned "VIVA Forever" show.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Due to "Article 13": Will YouTube be deleted next year?

One topic is trending at YouTube Germany these days: the draft of a new Copyright Directive of the European Union which could force YouTube to stop its business in Europe. At least this is what some people say.

Currently YouTube Germany proposes the query "youtube will be deleted" already when only typing "y".

This pessimism is based on a blog post of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki from October 22, 2018 which says:
"... the EU Parliament voted on Article 13, copyright legislation that could drastically change the internet that you see today.
Article 13 as written threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people – from creators like you to everyday users – to upload content to platforms like YouTube. And it threatens to block users in the EU from viewing content that is already live on the channels of creators everywhere."
At November 2, the German YouTube channel WissensWert ("worth knowing") released a video with the title "Why YouTube will not exist anymore next year". In this video it pretended that in some months all channels that we like will be deleted except a few of some big firms.

The truth is: article 13 is part of the Proposal for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on copyright in the Digital Single Market. But it is still in discussion within the institutions of the European Union. It is still unclear which one is becoming the final version.

For example, the Council's text of Article 13 regulates that an online content sharing service provider shall obtain an authorization from the rightholders in order to communicate or make available to the public works or other subject matter. Where no such authorization has been obtained, the service provider shall prevent the availability on its service of those works and other subject matter.

YouTube recognizes that it would be impossible to obtain authorizations from every rightholder. Thus YouTube would risk to get sued by rightholders. One way to prevent this would be to delete European YouTube channels – except some bigger ones in which YouTube trusts.

The consequence of this scenario would be that most of music clips will disappear from YouTube so that they cannot be embedded on COVER.INFO anymore.

YouTube started the #SaveYourInternet campain to invite creators to make videos about this topic:
"Article 13 could create enormous unintended consequences for everyone. We need to come together for a better solution."
When online content sharing service providers use filters to block uploaded content which might use copyright-protected works, this can lead to censorship. The filter may block content even when you cite a work in a permitted way, for example if you want to show a photograph in order to discuss it. But the truth is that upload filters would be nothing new. YouTube already uses them; they are called "Content ID".

If social-media corporations retired from Europe to avoid liability, there probably would be no contemporary platforms anymore to express opinions.

While there are superficial petitions on and many YouTube videos at the same level to spread dysphoria against the European Union, a speaker of European Commission designated the criticism on article 13 as nonsense at November 6, as German online magazine reported. The European Union is not against the Internet, he said. The position of rightholders should be strengthened and their content better rewarded.

Because of its scope, it is very important to carefully find a proper wording for the new Copyright Directive. The European Commission welcomes proposals.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

New plagiarism lawsuit about "Stairway To Heaven"

Randy California, a member of Spirit, a psychedelic rock band from Los Angeles, always pointed out that the riff in the intro of the 1971 rock hit "Stairway To Heaven" by Led Zeppelin has similarities with the band's instrumental piece "Taurus" that he had written in 1966 and released in 1968. But Randy California never had the money to file a lawsuit against Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, the Led Zeppelin members who wrote "Stairway To Heaven". He died in 1997 while swimming in the sea with his son in a rip current after saving his son's life.

Finally Randy California's trustee Michael Skidmore prompted Jimmy Page and Robert Plant before a US district court in 2016. He wants to achieve that Randy California will be credited as one of the authors of "Stairway To Heaven" so that his heirs get some of the royalties. It is estimated that the heirs would get around 40 million US dollars. Although Robert Plant visited a Spirit concert in 1970 on which, he says, he did not listen to the music but was drinking at the bar, the Led Zeppelin members won the lawsuit because the court stated substantial differences between the two songs.

An appeal court in San Francisco just ordered a new trial about this case because the judge in the first court misinformed the jury about the copyright protection of short sequences of tones. Another problem was that the judge did not introduce the original recordings of Spirit and Led Zeppelin but only considered the sheet music which was played anew for the lawsuit.


Saturday, August 4, 2018

We just want your money – for a good cause!

For COVER.INFO's maintenance you can donate to our non-profit association. Donations can be set off against tax liability in Germany.

COVER.INFO would not exist without a lot of voluntary work. It is not only necessary to maintain the database and fill in new entries. There would be no database if we did not have the inevitable hardware or make the essential administrative and programming works.

The problem

Not only server hosting costs money. When we have no voluntary skillful programmer, we will have huge costs for the further development of COVER.INFO. Luckily we currently have Falko who had the time to develop the new COVER.INFO during the last months. But Falko will have other things to do very soon.

COVER.INFO has to be kept state-of-the-art. Firstly this is important for making the website work on all modern browsers. Secondly this is necessary for IT-security reasons. As long as we have to fall back on external technical personnel, this will cause high costs.

Furthermore the website should not stay as it is now. New functions shall be developed to make it even more useful and easy to use.

The association

Thus on June 1, we founded a non registered association called COVER.INFO n. e. V. which is now operating the website COVER.INFO. Its benefit for the public has already been recognized by the local tax authority. Thus donations to the association can be set off against income and corporate tax liability in Germany. The association is authorized to issue donation receipts.

This way, the association can collect tax-advantaged money to maintain COVER.INFO in order to altruistically serve the advancement of people education in popular music. More about the association and its statues can be found here.


If you want to financially support COVER.INFO, you can send us money via bank transfer or PayPal. All required information can be found on this page. We hope that you also think our database is supportable.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Back to the roots: the extended artist view

Many users wished to have the old version of COVER.INFO with its tables back. They liked it because you could see on one single page which originals an artist has covered or which performers covered which songs of an artist. The new COVER.INFO with its song related views does not directly show such information.

That is why we reintroduce an artist-related table view which we would like to test with you. Click on the table symbol which you find on artist pages except in the mobile version.

Now you see a table view with the initial songs (originals) on the left and the follow-up songs (cover versions, samples, medleys, musical quotations) on the right. This is inverted compared to the old in order to keep the representation chronological.

You can sort the columns of the table in ascending and descending order. Artists and titles can be clicked to go to the normal view with further information.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

What happened during the last months on COVER.INFO?

Not much happened on the surface of the website since a few weeks but we are still intensively working on COVER.INFO. During the last months, we completely redesigned the database, revised the data, migrated it and began to overwork it again. As a user, you see almost nothing of all this, so we want to report what we have done and what we are still working on in the background.

In the database of the old, almost all additional information was put in German language into a comment, for example "Liveversion. 1978 aufgenommen. Deutscher Text: Max Mustermann / Sarah Muster. Von Sarah existiert auch eine französische Version mit dem Titel "Exemple" aus dem Jahre 1980" [which means: "Live version. Recorded in 1978. German lyrics: Max Mustermann / Sarah Muster. Sarah also made a French version under the title "Exemple" from year 1980"].

On the new site, all this information has its own space in the database. This is preventing mistakes and makes the addition and administration of the data much easier. This also allows us to make a version of COVER.INFO completely in English. Although a big part of the data could be interpreted automatically, we had to adjust a lot of things by hand. In almost 20 years, a great number of spelling mistakes occurred.

In the old database, a song had only one original. When a song had more than one, we needed to make several entries. Attentive users may have occasionally found some inconsistencies. In the new database, every song is actually existing only once.

For the new site, we added some song relations. Beside cover and quotation, there are now also samples, medleys and alternative versions. The latter are especially versions of the original in other languages. Before, they were mentioned in the comments, but now they are independent songs.

A song can have more than one writer or performing artist. This was not the case before. A song could have only one performer. For the database, Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake was one artist. If you clicked on Madonna or Justin Timberlake to see all their songs, then you did not get songs by Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake. Thus we had to revise over 100,000 artists and separate them into about 120,000. We couldn't do that in a fully automated way because the system doesn't know if for example Kool & The Gang are one or two artists.

Song writers are a special problem because they are indicated in different ways in sources and on discs. Sometimes you find their real names, sometimes their stage names; sometimes first name and surname, sometimes only surnames. All this has to be checked by hand – which is a time-consuming task, considering that we have almost 90,000 indications of song writers in the database.

You can imagine: The new site is much more complex but a lot faster than the old one. Furthermore, the new site can be used on mobile devices.

On COVER.INFO you can see at a glance which songs an artist performed and wrote and also of which bands he is or was a member.

For about 55 percent of the songs, our system found about 230,000 YouTube videos so that you can listen to these songs – a great improvement compared to the old site.

The implementation of languages is another thing which is not as easy as it seems to be at first sight. Our editorial staff needs a drop-down list of languages. But what languages are existing? There are ISO standards about this but they are disputed. It can happen that languages seem to be missing in the list and then we have to discuss why. Maybe it is not a language, but a dialect? We don't want to identify dialects.

More than 66,000 songs in our database are now tagged with a language. But originally we even discussed about removing language information from the database because the language was mentioned in the database only for a minority of songs. But your feedback told us that many of you are interested in language information for your research. That's why we are now trying to assign a language information to every song.

Since many years we are saving in the background the references of your database entries. These are very often websites. We saw a lot of music websites come and go. That means that many of our sources are not available anymore. Sometimes even serious websites gave way to malicious ones because the owner of the domain name has changed. We have now decided to publish a selection of a few serious long-standing references such as and Wikipedia. We are also saving more and more record labels and disc numbers. But these also need to be put into structured data fields.

Beside all these tasks, more things are done in the background: we have to make and implement concepts to show the content of the many new data fields on COVER.INFO in a reasonable and clear way. We also need to develop a ticketing system to receive, editorially verify and add your contributions to the database. Even on, there were contact forms but they simply generated e-mails which needed to be transferred to the database completely manually. Now we are trying to automate as much as possible to let the database grow under surveillance of our editorial staff as quick as possible.

There also were a lot of technical challenges to solve. Recently, our main task was to build a technically and content-related solid basis for the future.

In the end, the COVER.INFO website will be redesigned again to optimize the presentation of the data and to improve the user's benefit and comfort.

Friday, June 15, 2018

How to make money with stolen music – copyright claims on YouTube

Being a YouTuber, it happened to me several times that years after having published a video, someone asserted a copyright claim because of the music used. I was allowed to continue publishing the video but the claimant placed ads in the video and got paid for it. This is called monetization.

That's how YouTube informs video artists about a pretended copyright violation.

How did this happen? I used music from Free Music Archive. On this website, you will find, among others, music which is royalty free and can be used for YouTube videos. But not all tracks are public domain. In some cases, the authors decide later to earn money with their music. They add their tracks to YouTube's Content ID system. When YouTube's algorithm finds this music in videos, it monetizes them. In the end, this is quite fair because the YouTuber got music without paying royalties to improve his video. Nevertheless it would have been better if the author had reserved the right of monetization from the beginning on in his terms of use.

Earlier this month I was very surprised when [Merlin] Altafonte Music Distribution claimed that I would use in my video at minute 1:04 the sound recording "maz-Buena Vibra" on which they would hold the rights. I could keep on using it but they would monetize the video, i. e. placing ads and earning money with it.

I didn't even know a track called "Buena Vibra" nor an artist named maz! The piece of music I used is "Cute" by Bensound, an artist who allows YouTubers to use his track in their videos unless they are unchanged and unless his website is credited as a reference.

I googled maz's track and finally found it on Spotify. There is a song called "Buena Vibra" by this artist.

The stolen song is also distributed on Spotify.

The first two and a half minutes, I wondered what this track has to do with "Cute" and how YouTube would have recognized it in my video. But then I was astounded: from 2:30 on, the track contains Bensound's "Cute" in full length. A 100 % sample you could say! I informed Bensound. He had not given a permission.

So, what has happened? Somebody put on the market a foreign piece of music as if it was his own (or even two; who knows where the first two and a half minutes came from?) using a firm called CD Baby. It publishes digital music on well-known platforms like Amazon and Spotify and collects the royalty fees. It seems that they also use YouTube's Content ID system.

CD Baby allows musicians to merchandise their work as music streams or even on vinyl or CD.

CD Baby certainly acted bona fide when they claimed pretended rights of [Merlin] Altafonte Music Distribution and believed that I would have used the piece of music by maz in my video without permission. Actually maz audaciously stole it from Bensound to earn money with it.

In such cases, YouTubers should dispute a file on YouTube and indicate that they have a license or permission from the proper rights holder to use this material. Then the monetization will be suspended and the claimant has to react. In my case [Merlin] Altafonte Music Distribution abandoned his claim.

You should not copy this business model. It can not only have consequences by civil law but could also be punished. CD Baby will delete maz's track due to Bensound's claim.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Why we made a new design for COVER.INFO

We want to explain why we introduced the new design of COVER.INFO to which you unfortunately need to accustom yourself.

We had to think for a long time intensively about the question how to show the complex relations which we have in our modernized database. The old design using tables is not able to represent them.

The old one assumed that there are only covers and originals. Cover on the left, original on the right. That's how we naïvely started in 1999.

Meanwhile we learned: The world of music is not that easy. Indeed there are covers and originals, but originals can contain samples from other songs for example. Such a sampled song can itself be a cover version which has an original. Thus there are chains of song relations. These can't be represented in a two-columns view.

Therefore we decided on a representation with two or three boxes. This is done chronologically from old (at the top) to new (at the bottom).

You always consider one song. The two cases with two boxes are the following:

When nothing is derived from the considered song, for example the latter is a cover version which doesn't sample or quote anything, then this considered song is on the bottom and its originals (original version, quotation sources and sample sources) are above it, as shown in the following example.

(Note: The following information about the colors and the texts of the labels is partly not up to date. Meanwhile we optimized the labels. See the description of the song relations in the Help section.)
Fictitious example: As the considered song "Volé" has an original (green label), you can conclude that it must be a cover version.
When there is nothing older, then the considered song is situated on the top and its covers, samples, quotations, etc. are below.

The third case is the following: When the considered song is itself based on other songs (quotes them for example) and however also has been covered, then it is represented as one of three boxes, namely as the one in the middle.
In this fictitious example, the examined song "Stolen" contains a quotation of "What A Nice Song" and "Stolen" is the original of the cover version by The Original Samples. Furthermore, "Stolen" has been sampled in the "Sample Song".
Furthermore in the old design, there was not enough of space for our new additional information such as languages of the songs, references and YouTube videos (more to come).

Probably everyone will be convinced of the new design after a short period of practice. It is a bit exhausing to learn how the new design works but it's worth it.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

What you should know about the new COVER.INFO

We welcome you to the beta version of the new completely modernized COVER.INFO!

Many things are not finished yet. We know that nobody likes web sites under construction. But the new COVER.INFO already has more benefits than the old whose search function did not work properly anymore. We decided against operating both the old and the new site at the same time. Thus we can invest all efforts into the new COVER.INFO.

These are the most important innovations:

Search for either an artist or a song

You have to enter into the search field either one artist (performer or composer) or one song title. It is no longer possible to search for a combination of an artist and a song tile or for a combination of multiple artists (for example artist 1 feat. artist 2).

As search results you will find on the left (or on top on narrow displays) a list of found songs and on the right (or below on narrow dispays) a list of found artists.

Clicking on a song leads you to the correspondent song page. When you click on an artist, you'll get his artist page with the songs he performed and wrote. There you can click on the songs and at last you'll get the song page.

Chronological song relations

To understand the layout of the song pages, you have to understand that the new database chronologically shows the relations between pairs of songs (for example cover – original or quotation – quotation source).

An original is situated on the top and you will find its cover versions below, sorted by year in ascending order. But if the original also quotes other songs, then the quotation sources are naturally older and thus placed even above the original.

(Note: The following information about the colors and the texts of the labels is partly not up to date. Meanwhile we optimized the labels. See the description of the song relations in the Help section.)

Colored labels – for example  Cover ,  Original ,  Quote  and  Quote  – indicate the relation of the other song to the considered song whose title you clicked on and thus on whose song page you are. Orange or yellow labels stand for songs which are derived from others; green or turquoise labels for the originals on which the considered songs are based.
Fictitious example: As the considered song "Volé" has an original (green label), you can conclude that it must be a cover version.
If the other song is a cover (and situated below), then the considered song consequently is an original. If the other song is an original (and situated above), then the considered song is a cover (see example above). Accordingly if the other song (situated below) contains a quotation, then the considered song is the correspondent quotation source. And finally if the other song (situated above) has the label for the type quotation, then the considered song contains a quotation of that song.
In this fictitious example, the examined song "Stolen" contains a quotation of "What A Nice Song" and "Stolen" is the original of the cover version by The Original Samples. Furthermore, "Stolen" has been sampled in the "Sample Song".

New categories of entries

We introduced new categories of songs beside cover and quotation:

A  Medley , often also called potpourri, is a piece composed of parts of songs, played one after another, sometimes with overlapping.

A  Sample  is the special case of a musical quotation which is not played anew but taken from the original recording.

An  Alternative  version is another version of the original version performed by the original artist, especially a version in another language. You could also call it a "self cover version". To distinguish it from a cover, it shows its label even when it is the considered song.

Seperate artists

In the old database, technically
  • artist 1,
  • artist 2,
  • artist 1 feat. artist 2
were three different performers. That's why when you searched for all songs by artist 1 or by artist 2, you did not see the songs by artist 1 feat. artist 2.

For the new COVER.INFO we revised and separated all performers. Now you can reasonably search for individual artists even when they only exist in cooperations with others.

Aliases of artists

For every artist we are also able to save aliases, i. e. additional names this artist is known under. Now you can find an artist by searching for any of his aliases to get his artist page.

YouTube videos

Maybe the biggest benefit of the new COVER.INFO is the fact that we search and in case of success embed a YouTube video for every song, i. e. version. You can listen to them to know how the song sounds. The majority of the videos are found automatically. In case of an error, they can be corrected editorially.


The last innovation which is worth to be mentioned here is the publicaton of many of our web references. They are linked on the respective song pages so that you can easily go to other music databases for further research.

Looking further

As said in the beginning, not everything is already working well. That's why we would be glad to hear your feedback and hints about dysfunctions and suggestions for ameliorations of the website. Comment this post or send us a mail to

Other functions are already planned, for example contact forms for suggesting corrections and new entries and an advanced search.