Let’s play a game. It’s called guess who’s performing the song you’re listening to. It’s a somewhat widely recognised phenomenon that, in the same way that cassettes in a car turn into Freddie Mercury compilations, any classical mp3s on a file-sharing network will be attributed to Mozart. This doesn’t necessarilly cause any real grief, for a number of reasons. If I’m searching for classical music – and I don’t mean to imply that this is a frequent occurance – and I know what it’s called, then I’m fairly sure to know who composed it. If not I can find out easily. In any case it’s simple to assume that the only other credited composer is the true creator.
However, a generalisation of this phenomenon to popular music causes much more difficulty. I just did a search for "cover" on KaZaA, and downloaded pretty much every song I’d heard of, and every song from an artist I’d heard of. Except that many (most) are mis-attributed with no direct means of discovering the true performer. Some aren’t attributed at all ("punk cover").
Some I know. The one claiming to be a Guns ‘n’ Roses version of Stairway to Heaven is actually Pink Floyd and Led Zeplin. If the ‘Radiohead’ versions of Sunday Bloody Sunday and Video Killed the Radio Star ever finish, I’ll be able to tell if it’s actually them (I suspect not for VKtRS).
The rest – minus those that are immediately deleted – will languish on my hard disk in the folder of the damned, ‘Unknown Artist’. I think I had a point. But it’s late. So I’ll file this under ‘Unknown Rant’.