Intellectual property - backing up hard discs, backing track

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Intellectual property - backing up hard discs, backing track

Post by Uptherebels »

I am the playback tech for an artist and could do with some advice
It's my job to look after the Hard drive that plays the backing track (contains all the bits the band don't play and a click for the drummer to follow).
While on tour I created a backup of the data so if the master drive failed, we had a spare and could still play a show.
On Friday it became apparent that the guys that hold the master drive were probably not going to make the show. I was appointed to play drums, and we planned to use the spare drive. Upon learning this, the guys who programmed the drive (did not play the music, just reconfigured/adapted the original tracks for live use) claim that I have in fact stolen.
Is this the case? It has never been used in any other way, shared, lied about, gained from. It has only ever been used for it's intended use. I would have thought that being given the job of being responsible for the hard drive, backing it up was expected of me? Maybe I'm wrong. Any help is greatly appreciated!
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Post by AndyJ »

Hi Uptherebels,
This is certainly a novel problem. And a complicated one.
You mention that the hard disk was originally created by the other team adapting the music tracks into a format suitable for use as backing track for a stage performance and that this team were not themselves responsible for performing the original music. Based on this description I do not see how the backing track disk or its contents would qualify as a new recording and therefore attract copyright separate from the copyright which exists in the original recording which was presumably made in the studio by session musicians under the direction of a producer. If I am correct in this, then you cannot be accused of infringement by making a backup copy of the backing track disk. Any infringement which might have occurred would be of the original recording. From what you have said, that does not appear to be what you have been accused of.
Assuming the original music was made as I have described, the producer of the recording will own the rights in the recording. Did the other guys obtain his permission to make the master disk? Presumably yes if it was part of their job. And if they had this implied permission from someone authorised to give it (say the producer himself or a member of the artist's management) and you are also directly or indirectly employed by the same person (or company) then it could also be implied that you also had permission from that person to make a backup copy as part of your employment.
You don't explain the management structure behind the setup or the relationship between the guys who made the disk and the artist or the exact relationship between you and the artist, but I would have thought that if it was clearly your responsibility to maintain the hard disk (you use the words 'look after' it) in working order then making a backup seems entirely sensible, for exactly the circumstances you describe, when the master disk was unavailable. As already mentioned, it could be that you were implicitly authorised to make the backup copy by virtue of your employment contract / job description. If this is the case then the person who employed you may actually be the one at fault (assuming there is any fault here) and not you. But clearly as I have no detailed information about the relationships I mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph, it is hard to be more specific.
Also you do not mention what these other guys are proposing to do about your alleged unauthorised copying.
If they are threatening you with legal action then you would be well advised to consult a solicitor, preferably one with experience of the music business. However if they are seeking some other redress then it would seem sensible to involve someone in the management chain above you to arbitrate in the dispute.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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