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Richard - Bizlaw
Richard - Bizlaw, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 9721
Experience:  30 years of corporate, litigation and international law
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My sister and I wrote songs for an album we just recorded.

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My sister and I wrote songs for an album we just recorded. We had two friends help us chart and chord the melodies and such. We sent them a "Work For Hire" Agreement in order to pay them for their time and efforts. An amount was agreed to but now they are saying we need to sign a "Royalty Free - Licensing Agreement" which buys them "out" but still gives them marketing rights and we cannot sell the songs to anyone else. We have already copyrighted the songs and had no idea they would pull this. What do we do? We released the Cd and have begun selling it thinking they were our songs?
When did you send the work made for hire agreement before or after the work?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
After the work because we had no verbal or written agreement that they were evengwtting paid?we agreed verbally to pay tgem for their time after and they said they would walk away.

When you say say they helped in doing the charts and chords are you talking about arrangements? Also, did you and your sister also work on the charts and chords?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.


They strummed a guitar to find the right arrangement of the chords we sang to them. so, yes i would say it was the arrangement of the songs. we do not play instruments so we sang the songs to them and they played along and arranged what we sang to them. we both dont mind gving them credit but just want the rights to the songs.

The arrangements are derivative works. In order to have a work made for hire, there must be a specific written agreement. The lack of writing means you do not have a work made for hire. However, they only have a copyright interest in the arrangement and not the song. Since you participated in the creation of the arrangement you also have a copyright in the arrangement. Without your approval they cannot use the song with their arrangement. You as the owner of the song, can use the arrangement with the song. Thus, you effectively control the copyright. I suggest you make that clear to them and that they have no right to use the song since their rights relate solely to the arrangement. That may make them decide to sign the agreement and get paid. Otherwise they don't get paid and cannot use the song with their arrangement.


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