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JD 1992
JD 1992, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 33147
Experience:  18 years experience
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I guess this is a question entertainment lawyer. I am in a

Customer Question

I guess this is a question for an entertainment lawyer. I am in a band with 3 other members, and we recently kicked the singer from the band. The four of us would write entire songs (just instrumentals and song structure) and then the singer would put his lyrics and vocals over them. He owned the name of the band and when we kicked him from the band, he took the songs with him, even though 90 percent of the material was written by us. What rights do we have with these songs? Do they belong to him? And if the songs released were to be successful and generate income, would we be entitled to royalties? Can his new band take credit for what we wrote? Thanks.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Further, if you get a message asking if you want to do additional services like a telephone call that message is automatically generated by the website and is not sent from me. I, like most of the experts in the Legal categories, do not do telephone calls due to issues with State Bar rules and other concerns.

The lyrics belong to him if he wrote them the instrumental arrangements and tune belong to whoever wrote them. You would only be entitled to royalties if you establish ownership.

Anybody can "take credit" for anyone else's work although it doesn't mean they are legally entitled to do so.

Your best step now is to visit with a local lawyer and decide what you want to do. You can send the singer a cease and desist letter advising that the tunes are not to be used, you can seek some kind of arrangement with him in writing to set forth exact ownership rights and royalty arrangements, or you can pursue some other path. What you do not want to do is ignore it until something happens because the longer you wait and the more time passes the harder it is to establish your rights to the work and your entitlement to be compensated.

If your question has been answered completely then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating (of course I’d suggest Excellent!) so I receive credit for my work.

Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Alright, so how can we establish ownership? And I'm not sure whether or not we can write the cease and desist letter unless we have said ownership, and what would the letter be for exactly? Copyright infringement? This guy tends to try to take advantage of things because he is older and more experienced than us in this area so I really want to make sure before its too late. However, no contracts have been signed between him and us. Another thing is he owns the old band name and has it copyrighted so I hope that wont mean he has full ownership of the songs already because they were recorded and released to certain media outlets under that name. Thanks, ***** ***** my late response.
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 1 year ago.

You establish ownership through the facts and it varies from cases to case. It could be by finding a dated recording of the original session, it could be witnesses, etc.

The cease and desist letter is to stop further use and to establish your claim to ownership.

Ownership of the band name has nothing to do with ownership of the songs.

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