Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

It’s a given that a song can have more than one writer – you only have to look at the collaboration of Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers, one of the most successful writing partnerships of recent years. A thorny issue that can arise for budding (and established) artists is – who owns the copyright to the song if it’s co-written? This post will take a preliminary look at these issues and consider a worked example. We’ll look at the following issues:

  1. What is the law surrounding the issue of co-writing and ownership?
  2. What’s the situation if I’m in a band?
  3. How do I make sure that there are no problems if I’m co-writing a song or an album?

What is the law surrounding the issue of co-writing and ownership?

Under s.9(1) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 the owner of the copyrighted work is the “author” or creator of the work who recorded the work in a tangible form. It is perfectly possible legally for two people to co-write and therefore co-own property rights in a song (s.10(1) CPDA 1988).

So what’s the situation if I’ve co-written a song?

If two artists have co-written a song then it must be made explicitly clear that they have co-written the song and what shares they own in it. The details of the collaboration (i.e. who did what) and the proportion of the ownership is recorded on a Joint Registration Form. It is extremely important that this form is filled out and filed with the relevant body, the PRS for Music. It can cause severe problems later if this form isn’t filled out properly or at all. It’s always better to cross the t’s and dot the i’s at an early stage to avoid conflict later.

What’s the situation if I’m in a band?

If you’re a member of a band then there is normally an assumption that all band members have contributed to the creation of the songs (in the publishing agreement) if they are all deemed co-writers. However, this may not necessarily be the case. The publishing agreement should therefore be carefully checked by both the band members and their legal team to make sure it reflects the reality of the situation and the desires of the band members. Again, these issues should be sorted out an early stage as it has the potential to not only cause legal problems but also friction between band members.

How do I make sure that there are no problems if I’m co-writing a song or an album?

The best way to do this is by taking independent legal advice. The law is fairly transparent relating to these issues but the practicalities and the individual facts can cause problems. The thoughts of other potential co-writers should be sought on the issues and the co-writers / band should hammer out the practicalities and reality of the ownership situation at an early stage.

About Chris Hadrill

Chris is a specialist employment lawyer at Redmans. He specialises in contentious and non-contentious employment matters, including breach of contract claims, compromise agreements and Employment Tribunal cases. He writes on employment law matters on a variety of websites, including Direct 2 Lawyers, Lawontheweb.co.uk, LegalVoice, the Justice Gap and his own blog. Contact Chris by emailing him at chadrill@redmans.co.uk

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

One Response to Co-writers and the ownership of copyright in a song

  1. Paul says:

    Nice & clear!
    ……. but if one person writes the music and another writes the lyrics with the intention of creating a song and that song is then recorded, are both writers co-writers of the song? or are there separate copyrights in the music and lyrics each owned by the respective writer?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.76 Average

172 Reviews

Anonymous

I had an employment issue which required legal advice. Chris was very supportive and knowledgeable, resulting in an optimum resolution in my favour. Would definitely recommend.

Posted 5 days ago

David M

Very professional and first-rate advice. I would use again. With thanks,

Posted 5 days ago

Anonymous

Got the job done swiftly without going too much in to detail.

Posted 5 days ago

Derek W

Redmans dealt with my case very efficiently and I was happy with the outcome.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Timely professional advice!

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Very good service

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

I was in contact with Chris and then worked with Caroline on an employment matter. I was very pleased with the service and professionalism throughout, and came away with satisfied with the outcome. Would happily recommend.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Nikki

Received advice re employment law. Chris was very helpful and advised accordingly. Would happily recommend them and if ever I need help again, will not think twice before using them.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Samantha K

Absolutely brilliant thank you. Caroline Lewis is a legend

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

The legal advice was clear and helpful.

Posted 2 months ago

Davinder P

Good Service

Posted 2 months ago

Adrian V

I was using Redmans services for a Settlement Agreement. Very quick and professional service. The outcome was favourable and I was very pleased with the amendments and results. Pretty glad to recommend them for any type of legal advice.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very responsive, efficient, clear and supportive. Thank you! Highly recommend.

Posted 2 months ago

Tiago S

Chris was always prompt to help me with legal matters that are beyond my comprehension and very helpful leasing with my former employer. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors to everyone who needs help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional advice tailored to what was needed. Thanks for your help Chris Hadrill and team.

Posted 2 months ago

Peter S

Really pleased with the outcome and the advice I had from Chris and Sacha.

Posted 2 months ago

Harika A

Redmans solicitor's helped me with my settlement agreement, Chris has been very helpful throughout the process.He was very prompt in his responses and made my settlement look simple.Special thanks to Caroline for her efficient communication, thorough explaination of contract terminology and negotiations.I highly reccommend Redmans solicitors for anyone seeking employment related legal help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Good and quick service

Posted 2 months ago

Ricky D

Very satisfying to be assured of such attention and professionalism.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent service - thankyou

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Efficient, timely and friendly support and advice

Posted 2 months ago