People are talking about Dennis Chambers being sick. What’s the deal with this?
It’s critically important to understand how your rights to a song are affected when you write with other songwriters, because the majority of hit songs are written by more than one person, and it’s likely that you will have to collaborate with someone at some point in your career. This is a very common area of difficulty and disagreement between songwriters, because most co-writers do not understand their rights and obligations in these situations. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve written a song with your sister, your wife, or your best friend. A lack of knowledge of these issues can cause you a lot of pain later, and if your song becomes a major hit, it may also cost you a lot of money.
To realize how easy it is to misunderstand the legal rights of collaborators, let’s look at some hypothetical situations. Imagine that you finally get together with a songwriter you’ve been wanting to work with. You bounce a few ideas back and forth. Impressed with each other, you decide to write a few songs. You record simple piano-vocal demos of the songs on a portable cassette recorder. Over the next few months, these problems arise:
1. For the first song, you wrote all of the music and one-half of the lyrics. The two of you decide to license the song for a motion picture for a $1,000 synchronization fee. Do you automatically get $750?
2. For the second song, you wrote only the music, and your collaborator wrote only the lyrics. After promoting the song for a few months to music publishers, producers, and recording artists, all of the criticism is the same – your music is wonderful, but your collaborator’s lyrics are terrible. You decide to find another lyricist to rewrite all of the lyrics without your original collaborator’s approval. Can you create a new song with your music and another songwriter’s lyrics without owing the original lyricist any of the money earned from the new song?
3. The third song you wrote together is perfect for a demo tape featuring you and your band. After promoting this tape for a few months, you get interest from two major record companies that want to sign your group. Both labels insist that the co-written song is by far your biggest potential hit and will be the first single they will release after you’re signed. Your collaborator, who is not in your group and who desperately needs money to pay the rent, finds an advertising agency willing to pay $10,000 because they think the song is perfect for a national advertising campaign for a deodorant spray they represent. You tell the record companies about your collaborator’s plans, and they insist they will not sign your group if the song is used in the commercial. Can you prevent your collaborator from giving a license to the advertising agency, or can you otherwise stop the agency from using the song?
4. Your diligent promotional efforts for the fourth song have paid off, and you finally receive the call you’ve been waiting for. Sally Superstar’s producer loves the song and wants to put it on her next album. Your timing was perfect because every other song on the album is finished and the producer was waiting for a “killer ballad” like yours to finish the project. The record company wants to release the album soon, so Sally and her producer, Eddie Ears, need to begin recording the song within the next five days. Eddie, like many record producers who like to own rights to songs, insists that you assign all of the music publishing rights in your song to his company as a condition of having it recorded on Sally’s album. Your collaborator is camping somewhere in Montana and can’t be reached. Can you assign all music publishing rights in the song to the producer?
Unfortunately for you, and surprising as it may seem, the answer to all of the questions above is “No!” Now you can understand why the legal effects of collaboration are some of the most misunderstood aspects of the business of songwriting. Hopefully, this chapter will clear up some of the confusion.
A joint work under the Copyright Law, is a “work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole.” As I discussed in chapter one, a song is subject to copyright protection when “fixed in any tangible medium of expression…from which [it] can be perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.”
Read more HERE: http://wp.wixenmusic.com/publishing-101/legal-problems-with-co-writers/