Legal question on usage of my studio work by a former band

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Lichtaffen, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. Lichtaffen


    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    So I recently got let go from a band I was working in for about 2 years. The band leader is on a small independent label which distributes his recordings. I know it's hearsay, but I started this recent band with him and came up with the name. He writes the songs, all other musicians write their individual parts. I've done everything from promoting, booking, making posters, photography, facebook support, etc., so I was not just another hired gun. I laid down tracks for 13 songs, one of which was released as a 45 on the label and I was given credit as the bass player. I never signed a thing or received a dime for those record sales. Now he's got 12 other songs he's going to release as a CD. I asked him not to use my tracks after he let me go, he agreed (we'll see if he honors that request).

    Basically, the question is: do I have rights to anything he releases with my tracks on it? Did I give up my rights by not signing anything? I've known him for almost 20 years and didn't feel he'd screw me over, but it happened. He's getting royalties for the recordings, but no other band member has received a dime from any sales (they are definitely selling). Has anything similar happened to any of you?
  2. As has been stated in your other double post - Since you have no writing credits and have signed nothing, he can say he paid you in cash for your studio work. The rest of the work you did for the band is of no consequence.
  3. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    Not being the song writer (no official credit) you don't have the right to anything. Sorry
  4. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    I have been in a similar situation and as luck would have it, my brother is an intellectual property attorney. I was in a touring band for a number of years. We did some studio and live recordings and wrote many of the bass parts. When I left the band, I posted some of the songs on my website. I made sure to put that it was me playing with that particular band and listed that the songs were property of the BL who wrote them. Shortly after that, his attorney (who did not deal in intellectual property) sent me a cease and desist notice. I had my brother contact him to explain the statute that deals with property rights. Without going to court, I was allowed to continue to use the songs to promote myself as long as I continue to give credit to the song's owner.

    The answer is no. There really isn't anything you can do about it. You started the band with the BL. He writes the songs, nothing was ever copyright protected and you were not given credit for writing your own bass parts. Even if there was an agreement where he was supposed to pay you, he could claim that he paid you. The burden would be on you to prove that he didn't. He would not have to prove that he did.
    However, you have the right to use the songs to promote yourself as long as you can prove that you played on them and you give writing credit to the owner of the song without trying claim credit yourself.
  5. Lichtaffen


    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    Thanks for the advice, guys. Sorry about the double post. After I posted here, I realized I should have posted in Band Management. Moderators, do what you must. ;)