Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Utah

Ownership of original music composed with band

I am the songwriter for my band. I write lyrics, chord progression, and melody. When I finish a song, I am able to play it as a solo piece if desired. I then take the song to the band, and each member improvises a part for their respective instruments. We work together to get the song ready for performance. I claim to have ownership of the song itself, but one member disagrees, claiming equal part because the other members take part in performance, and writing their instrument parts. Am I entitled to the rights to the song itself?

Asked on 1/06/09, 7:44 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Alvin Lundgren Alvin R. Lundgren, L.C.

Re: Ownership of original music composed with band

It is my understanding that you are entitled to the rights for the portions you create. You should have an agreement with other members how any future rights and royalties would be shared.

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Answered on 1/06/09, 10:47 pm
Erik Ericksen Thorpe North & Western

Re: Ownership of original music composed with band

Keep in mind that there are at least two separate pieces of intellectual property. The first is a copyright in the song as you wrote it, i.e. the lyrics and music. The second is a copyright to the recorded performance. Therefore, you own the copyright to the music (barring any other agreement) and the group would be the default owner of the performance. This is especially true when others contribute or improvise. Get it in writing sooner rather than later to make it clear.

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Answered on 1/20/09, 6:33 pm

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