Son needs help

Copyright matters affecting music and musicians.
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Cazkeel
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Son needs help

Post by Cazkeel »

Hi,
My teenage son makes music and has one (created 2 years ago) in particular that he says everyone is using. He has had a few phone calls from people in the US who puport to be from a major record company, asking him to arrange with them to have it copyrighted and they would help. I believe one of the email addresses do not have the company name, just an ordinary gmail account. Which I thought was suspicious.
Is there any way that I can help him to copyright to and to actually start to make some money? I don't know the first thing about this.
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AndyJ
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Re: Son needs help

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Cazkeel,

You are right to be suspicious of these 'offers'. Copyright came into existence the moment your son either wrote down his songs or recorded them in some way. He doesn't need to do anything else. However as it sounds like he's already put his music out on the internet, there's every chance that someone else could download his songs and then claim that they wrote them first - meaning that this other person could then allege that your son's songs infringe this other person's copyright! Your son needs to make sure that he safely keeps the first copy of each song he has made. If these are digital files, then the date stamp of the file should show the date the work was first saved, and this in turn can establish a priority over any subsequent copies made by others. However this is far from foolproof since it is relatively trivial to change the creation date of a saved file. A better approach is to get someone (preferably someone outside the family) to write a brief statement to the effect that they knew of the existence of the song(s) with a brief description eg title or first line of the lyrics, on a certain date and that they know or believe it was created by your son. This statement needs to be signed and dated, and then kept in a sealed envelope along with the recording.

If your son is serious about breaking into the music business he can register his copyright with the US Copyright Office, but this comes at a price ($45 per registration). Details of how to do this can be found here. There's no official form of copyright registration in the UK (or indeed most other European nations) but there are private companies which offer such services. One major advantage with an official US copyright registration is that a certificate of registration issued by the US Copyright Office is taken as prima facie evidence* that your son is the owner of the copyright in the work he registered, should this ever be necessary before a US court. The same does not hold true for the registration services provided by a private company. A UK court would also accept a US Copyright Office registration as good evidence of copyright ownership.

And if your son does progress in the music business it is really important that he learns as much as he can about how intellectual property rights work, so that he doesn't get conned into giving up his rights while he is still relatively new and naive. There are a number of useful websites on the subject, such as
MusicAlly, ($)
Bemuso (free) and
Music Law Advice (free).





* See subsection 410(c) of the US Copyright Act 1976.
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
Cazkeel
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Re: Son needs help

Post by Cazkeel »

Hi Andy,


Thank you very much, this information is just what I was looking for, a lot to digest there.
I very much appreciate you taking the time to reply.
Best wishes.
Cazkeel
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Son's offer from the US. Genuine?

Post by Cazkeel »

Hi,
I'm torn over this, as I don't want to reject any potential genuine offer on the other hand, I don't want my son scammed. I have been able to get hold most of the emails sent: I've changed the names etc., this is a summary of the emails, they have also spoken on the phone and he was urged to get a lawyer:

Email sent to my son: ''Do you know there's a different version of your song '‘‘Flinder’’' from a different artist going big on TikTok?
I'm assuming your version '‘‘Flinder’’' is the original? There's a few different versions of this song.
I'm with XXXX Records. BaddBOY Records is a joint venture record label I have in partnership with XXXX.
I'd love to work together and help with making sure your version is the one people start listening to.
To not waste anyone's time though I can say we are wanting to give a $11k USD advance and $20k USD digital marketing budget for '‘‘Flinder’’'.
The idea would be to continue growing the sound on TikTok with the marketing I do through TikTok.
Since the song on TikTok sounds a bit different from '‘‘Flinder’’' we'd keep the 'Heated Up.' version by Henny Xanner up on DSP's and incorporate Nakkannix into the song when redelivered.
It would be redelivered to DSPs as 'Henny Xanner, Nakkannix - Heated Up. (‘‘Flinder’’ remix)'.
This would be to ensure the sound on TikTok continues to grow with the song which will point back to Nakkannix and '‘‘Flinder’’'.
We would like to sign your song '‘‘Flinder’’'.
Your son will receive the $11,000 USD advance that we discussed in the previous email thread. Your son will also keep 17.6% net receipt royalties from '‘‘Flinder’’' digital streams.
There is another version of '‘‘Flinder’’' from a different artist that has been growing because of the song being used on TikTok. 'Heated Up.' by Henny Xanner.
We would like to direct the growth from the different song to your original song '‘‘Flinder’’'.
We'd re-release the song as 'Henny Xanner, Nakkannix - Heated Up. (‘‘Flinder’’ remix)'.
This will allow us to continue growing the song through TikTok marketing while now involving you in the growth, because as of now, the song that is growing from TikTok is the other song 'Heated Up.'.
We'd like to make sure you are involved in the song's growth from TikTok as you have the original version.
To answer your question about costs (or how we will make money), record labels make money from digital streams and song sales.
There are no costs from you that need to be paid to us.
If this all sounds good please let me know and we can send a proposal/agreement, not including the name and address for now. (I had not wanted to send my sons name and address to them)

Any help gratefully received, do we need to get a lawyer to speak to these people?
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AndyJ
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Re: Son needs help

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Cazkeel,

I need to preface this by saying I have very little practical experience of the music business and even less with music streaming platforms.

So, yes, you should certainly get some proper legal advice before committing to anything. I am assuming that your son is under 18 in which case while he cannot enter into contracts for certain transactions, he may enter into a contract of employment without needing a parental sponsor (although obviously you are supporting him in this). That means that he may become personally liable for any terms and conditions he signs up for.

The size of the advance being offered makes me suspicious. Streaming services (and I assume that TikTok is no different) pay incredibly small royalties to artists* - we're talking about pennies per thousand downloads - and so it would take a very long time to recoup the amount of money being offered in advance. In other words your son might be tied into a very long contract with this company which may not be in his best interests if he is still developing his musical style.

You can find a suitable solicitor who specialises in the entertainment business through the Law Society's Find-A-Solicitor website. Select 'Media IT and Intellectual Property' from the list where it says "Your legal issue' and then enter your location in the next box, and press search. This should bring up a number of individuals and law firms fairly close to where you live. You will need to trawl through the entries to select an individual who specialises in media and entertainment law. Give them a call and ask if they offer a free initial consultation (this is usually conducted on the phone) in which you can outline the issue and see if the particular lawyer can help. Obviously you need to ask about their charges before you decide to go ahead and instruct them to handle things for your son. However I would hope that they will be able to indicate during the free consultation whether you should be thinking about going ahead with this or if they find it a little dubious. My concern is that this could be some sort of advance-fee fraud, where they send you a cheque which is 'mistakenly' made out for an amount greater than the $11k and they ask you to refund the overpayment amount by making a bank transfer back to them. You then find that the cheque bounces and you are out of pocket for the amount you sent back to them. I hope I am being overly suspicious and this will all turn out well for your son.

Good luck.

* By coincidence, the Parliamentary Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports has just issued a report which highlights the disparity in payments to artists for streaming downloads. The full report is here.
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
Cazkeel
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Re: Son needs help

Post by Cazkeel »

That's really interesting regarding the bouncing cheques, if it's a scam the they've put a lot of effort into it. But then if they hope to make thousands then it would be worth it.

Lots of very useful information in your reply, thank you again
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