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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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I have a question regarding music copyright. I am in a band

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Hi I have a question regarding music copyright. I am in a band and thinking about leaving. We have written a lot of songs, with some songs being written with me just writing the lyrics and vocal melodies but also other songs that were written by myself and the band have added bits on top like drums, bass and lead guitar. I just want to understand what kind of rights I have to these songs? Everything I have written I had made a recording of first and that file is on my computer with the date it was created. My question is, do I hold the rights to everything I have written as long as I have these original recordings or do I give up these rights if leave the band?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Also we have never talked about ownership of these songs in any way. If I start another band, am I able to record these songs and release them under the new band providing I do not use any parts that the old band have written for them?
Expert:  Alex J. replied 8 months ago.

Hi. Thank you for your question and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I will assist you. Were your responsible for the production of the songs - in terms of contribution to the music was your contribution bigger than the other band members? Did you make the songs at your computer in your own time?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. Some songs I had only contributed lyrics and vocal melodies to and were otherwise instrumental songs without it. So I'm not sure my contribution was bigger in that situation. However other songs I had created I did from scratch and consisted of guitar, vocals and lyrics. And could be considered a complete song in its own right - in these cases I would have recorded the song and sent it to the band and they would add in their own instruments on top of that song. I believe in that situation my contribution was bigger. Everything I made I did in my own time at my own computer.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 8 months ago.

Thank you. Under the law of copyright the owner of copyright is the author. If this was a joint enterprise then the ownership is joint - so broadly speaking songs where you made equal contributions (ie each side made a key contribution) you will have to make a decision ie let the band continue to use these songs but they will have to pay you a share of the royalties if applicable or agree with the band to take the songs yourself. The songs you made solely on your computer by yourself, you are the owner of - if the band has recorded these already they will have to pay you royalties for future commercial success. The issue with copyright is the law is described under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 - using this law you then determine ownership as a matter of factual circumstance. If you are satisfied you can prove you did all the work on your own computer you will be the owner of those works. I look forward to hearing from you. Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for your reply. I understand the copyright for the songs in which each side made a key contribution. If we were to make a decision whether the band are able to carry on using these songs, In what form does this agreement between band members need to be? Can it simply be an agreement by message or email?Also I just want to get a bit more clarification if possible on the songs I had created from scratch myself.So the songs that I created from scratch would only have been recorded first by myself on my computer and the recording I made would have consisted of 1 guitar and my vocals with complete lyrics. The band then used this recording as a foundation and built upon it by adding in lead guitar, bass and drums to the song. So in this case am I right in thinking that I am the owner of these songs considering I do not use any of the parts the band have made for these songs (i.e bass, drums, lead guitar etc.)
Also the recordings that are on my computer are in the form of sound files that have a 'date created' on the file. Would this be considered satisfactory evidence that I made the song purely based on the fact that the date created is before any other recording of the song?
Expert:  Alex J. replied 8 months ago.

Thank you. The agreement can take and informal format. If creating a formal contract is impractical then having evidence of some agreement will be helpful if you ever had a dispute over ownership.

The songs you created from scratch do belong to you - if the band members created other components part these parts if distinguishable could have their own copyright. So you may not be able to use the song in its evolved format without their permission. Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you thats very helpful. Sorry I just have a few last questions on this subject before I feel 100% comfortable with it.So when talking about permission to use a song, what forms of usage is this applicable to? Do they only need my permission when selling a song or do they need my permission to use the song in any form regardless of financial gain?
So for example, If the band recorded the song I wrote in its evolved format and advertised this on their website for free, or released their recording of this song for free without my permission purely for self advertising purposes. Would this be illegal even if they are not making money from it?And also just going back to my previous message would the 'date created' information on a sound file be enough evidence to prove who wrote the song first?
Expert:  Alex J. replied 8 months ago.

Hi, Thank you. If they are using material that requires your permission, it should be up to you to determine the parameters of that permission - for example you may no permit free downloads. If you are talking about the evolved song, they would need permission to use the constituent parts of the song created by you for free downloads as well.

Evidence of copyright ownership could include date created or the original meta data on your PC. I would note that often people protect work by putting it in a sealed envelope dating it and sending it to themselves (or a lawyer for safe keeping) by recorded delivery. You then only open the envelope in the event of a court dispute.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you. So if I do not give them permission to use it in that way but they still use it, what would be the next action in that case and what options would I have?
Expert:  Alex J. replied 8 months ago.

Hi, Thank you. If they used your copyright without permission you would have to consider suing the band. Can you negotiate with the band?

Expert:  Alex J. replied 8 months ago.

Hi, Thank you. If they used your copyright without permission you would have to consider suing the band. Can you negotiate with the band?

Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3556
Experience: Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
Alex J. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** my intention to try and negotiate with them but just wanted to know what all my options were first. I think you've answered all my questions about this so thank you very much for all your help Alex. I really appreciate it.
Kind regards

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