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WA Copyright Infringement on Music - What to Do?

Discussion in 'Intellectual Property Law Forum' started by DanielB, 12 March 2015.

  1. DanielB

    DanielB Member

    12 March 2015
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    Hi folks,
    I recently composed music for and worked sound design for a short film that was released under a creative commons license. The film itself was released under that license, however my music & sound were not.

    Shortly after the films release, a band approached me and asked if they could use my song & the voiceover in their album - to which I agreed. This morning that album was posted online and the band are selling the album with my music a part of it without making an agreement with me over what would happen in terms of profits. On top of that they have given neither myself, nor the original filmmaker any writing credits for our work and even gone so far as to name the album after the film/ song. There was no formal documentation/ releases exchanged or signed in regards to the music.

    The money I honestly don't care about, I'm more frustrated with the fact that they are passing my work off as their own without so much as a mention of myself or the filmmaker.

    Is there anything I can do about this, or is it just bad luck on my part? Is it copyright infringement?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Tim D

    Tim D Member

    22 January 2015
    Likes Received:
    --Disclaimer I am just a law student--

    As I'm not a lawyer I can't offer legal advice, but as far as legal information goes in Australia (and many other countries) the creator of a work has both copyright and moral rights. One moral right is the right of attribution which basically means they have to give you credit, unless you specifically consented to them not giving you credit.

    There is a lot of info online about it but a good start is Moral rights — Copyright Agency

    So aside from any complexities of the Creative Commons licensing you have a moral right as the composer of the music. However I have no idea of the cost of effort involved in asserting these rights in a court. A purely legal avenue might prove quite expensive, I'll defer to someone else with more experience on this issue.

    I think you need to work out what you actually want out of this situation. Do you want them to stop selling the record? Do you want them to simply acknowledge you in someway (maybe on their website)? I think you need to work this out first.

    Practically the first step might be to read up on your rights and them simply talk to them or write them a letter. If you aren't happy with the outcome maybe contact the Arts Law Centre Arts Law Centre of Australia (or one of the many other film bodies such as the Australia Guild of Screen Composers or Screen Producers Australia Home » Screen Producers Australia)for some initial advice or seek out an entreatment lawyer for more formal advice.
    Tracy B likes this.
  3. DennisD

    DennisD Well-Known Member

    11 July 2014
    Likes Received:
    Hi Dan

    Just because you indicated in a conversation that you'd be ok in principle with a band in some way using your work doesn't mean that you've granted unfettered use of your work. If that's what happened, then I completely understand your frustration with their approach!

    To get things rolling, here's a few things to consider:

    1. You mention that the film in which your work was used was licensed under a creative commons. You may already be aware that not all creative commons are the same. Each one requires some credit or acknowledgment of the original creator. Here is a simple reference point for the different types of creative commons. You can see that these licences are not free-for-all. As well as requiring credit to the original creator, each one imposes different restrictions in relation to such things as modification, commercial application and licensing.

    2. On the basis of 1, you might ask them why they think it's ok not to acknowledge or credit you explicitly?

    3. Flowing from 1 also, if the creative commons licence does not allow for commercial use you might ask them why they think it's ok to use your work in an album that they're selling?

    4. Separate to 1 to 3, you might ask why do they think that the creative commons for the film applies to your music?

    This is to get things rolling and for your initial consideration. Depending on the nature of your relationship with the band, you might like to raise some or all of 1-4 with them and explain what they're doing is ''not cool'' and see their response. Let's see what the other contributors say also.

    Aside, based on what you've described and speculating a little, maybe the band are not sitting pretty because I'm not sure how they could show their right to use all of the intellectual property in their album if it took off, for example a piece of paper signed by you and with words like ''perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide license'' to use your work!

    Good luck and please keep us posted!
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    Tim W, Tracy B and Sophea like this.

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