Originally Posted by ZootELoops
The way I understand it, ANYONE can re-record and release a song without the original artist's permission (as I heard from a Paul Anka interview about his 2005 album of cover tunes). If you want to use the ORIGINAL version, you need permission (as is the case with Guitar Hero/RockBand tracks or any movie soundtracks).
So that's why you will see their songs by other artists on iTunes.
No, you have to pay a percentage of the royalties to the original writer OR the owner of the writer's rights, which will probably be a publishing company. The Verve got into huge trouble for not getting the publisher's permission for a string arrangement of the vocal line from a rolling stones song, which resulted in the stones getting all the money from the song (a huge hit), and even accepting an award for a song they hadn't actually written!