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Who owns what?

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by Dimension, May 25, 2012.

  1. Dimension

    Dimension Active Member

    Hi, this is my first post here and I'm in need of some help. I'm actually trying to help my dad out.

    About 3 years ago he produced an album for a teenage girl and things went south the minute the project was finished. My dad co-wrote the songs, arranged them, played the guitar parts and hired studio musicians to play drums bass etc. The teenage girl sang the songs and co-wrote them, nothing more. The deal was that the album would be paid for over a period of about two years, through performances etc, but they ceased all communication, and my dad never received a dime. It was a terrible experience. He would now like to strip the vocals off of the tracks and remix them and license them for bg music. My question is, can he do that and call it a new master and keep the licensing money. Hopefully those are enough details.

    Thank you for your help!
  2. Dimension

    Dimension Active Member

    I forgot to mention that this girls mother paid for studio time and musicians, but bailed on the producer and ceased communication.
  3. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Whew...that's a complicated mess. I hate to say it, but you need an attorney who specializes in Intellectual Property Law. Start by finding a showbiz lawyer and ask for a referral.

    Is there a written contract? Was the girl a minor at the time?

    One strategy is this: DO NOT attempt to recover money for the work done in the hiring/studio bills. Once it's paid back, they keep whatever rights. Instead your Dad could appropriate all rights in lieu of monetary payment. That way he doesn't get paid for the studio, musicians, etc., but he then gets the rights and can exploit the material to his heart's content. He may make more money that way in the long run.

    But check with a lawyer first!
  4. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    In addition...let's say they were out to rip you off. So they had the work done, and didn't pay for it. It's been 3 years and they have been unreachable. They have legally abandoned the project. They passed on it, it is now yours.

    On top of that, let's say they walked away with a copy of the finished product. They then made more copies and sold them. Well, they would be selling something that didn't belong to them, which is very much illegal. Kind of like me selling your car to the used car man and keeping the money. Out and out illegal. THey would owe you all the money from the sales. If they've done that, they better not raise a stink about you appropriating the rights! People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. I think the legal term for this is "unclean hands". And selling what isn't yours is called "conversion", I think.

    Just some thoughts for you to consider in your strategy.
  5. Dimension

    Dimension Active Member

    Complicated mess for sure. No contracts were ever signed, but drafts were done up. The mother kept stalling, but foolishly my Dad thought they could be trusted. He learned something there. Literally the day he handed over what they thought was the master (because of their own stupidity), they became unreachable and tried to steal band members etc. It was absolutlely bizarre considering the mother works in a liquor store and had no experience managing a band and didn't even understand what a master was. She thought the CD that my dad gave her to duplicate was the master. Anyway, there's much more to this twisted tale, but it's not really relevant.

    We talked a bit about it last night and decided to think of it as a repo. I don't see how this would be any different than not paying for anything else. What happens? They come and take it back.

    Thank you for your help.
  6. Steve@Russo

    Steve@Russo Active Member

    no contracts, then do what you want, I highly doubt there will ever be enough money made off the songs for either party to consider lawyers
  7. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Did anyone file for copyright, designating who wrote what percentage of music and lyrics?
    Did the girl "co-write" lyrics only?
  8. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Can't just say "no contracts do what you want." Without a contract, it falls under the default set of laws in that State. The law may force an equal split or something. Must check with lawyer.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    The worst she could do is try to sue you. But if she ripped you off, then you could countersue. Or you could write a song about a boy named Sue? Maybe not?

    That's why God created entertainment attorneys
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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