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Copyright question regarding song rights for a bands sound recordings

Oct 08, 2004, 12:04 AM

Our band is getting ready to record our second CD.  We got good reviews for our first one and even turned down a (lousy) publishing deal.  However, this next CD will be different in how we split “copyrights”.  In other words, instead of giving all songwriters an equal share in the copyrights like last CD, the songs will now be either one band member owning the whole copyright for a song that he wrote, or some songs that were written by all the members of the band, all band members will hold the copyrights equally to those.  I know that holding a copyright to a song is important, and powerful for future values, if they are re-recorded or what not.  But here is my question:

If one of the sound recordings (songs), gets picked up for a movie sound track, or a commercial in a publishing deal, or something else? for a song that is copywritten by only one person, will all the members of the band be paid equally as a matter of course, or will this require a special agreement?  In other words, we want to make an agreement that all band members will get equal money for that “sound recording” but that the song writer (listed copyright individual(s)).. retains rights for any future use.. eg: re-recordings, sheet music, sold to another artist, etc.

I’ve told the band I think that the copyright holder gets paid more as a matter of course, and that we’ll need a “special” agreement to get paid equal on those sound recordings that are “owned” by a single individual overall… otherwise the legal copyright holder will get more money.

Please advise.


Scott Wight Joined Oct 07, 2004
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Oct 11, 2004, 02:43 AM

You need a legal agreement among the band members that stipulates your stated desires.  Go to an attorney and tell her or him what you want to do.

But it sounds like your arrangement is an administrative nightmare and one frought with all sorts of time bombs.

In general, be careful to document the who/what/when/where/how/why and creation of each song. Even if the drummer is just hanging out in the room where you compose, then she or he can claim certain rights…..


Bruce Haring Joined Sep 17, 2004
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