Who owns a band’ssound recordings?

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Who owns a band’ssound recordings?

I was in a band. There were four members. We each wrote our own songs (there were no co-writers as we did not collaborate together) though we recorded together. One member in particular recorded all of the songs but we all sat in on mixing and production. A few days ago I noticed this particular ex member had put my songs up on his website stating his name then the band name after the song as ‘”claim”. He says he owns the sound recordings though there was no written agreement, he was not a sole producer and did hardly anything on the songs themselves. Is it true that he owns these works?

Asked on May 14, 2011 under Business Law, Iowa

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

He does not own these works. The minute you wrote those lyrics, they were your copyright and the music behind it, were whomever did the arrangement. If there is a collaboration on production, you may each own a portion but without federal copyright protection, you may be limited. Quickly contact a copyright/entertainment law attorney in your state or one who handles intellectual property and see if a cease and desist letter can be issued or at least correspondence regarding how much you are to get in terms of royalties. Further, for future reference, review the U.S. Copyright Law on musical recordings, musical lyrics and arrangements. As to what you write, remember that unless you sampled something without permission or sampled with permission, your work is original. Any portion that pre-existed prior to your creation (think rap sangs with backing tracks from rock and roll songs) is not yours. Only that portion you created is your work unless you as a band decide you all are on the copyright.


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