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 first name (required)

Your last name (required)

Your email (required)

Your telephone number (required)

Brief details of your enquiry

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

204 Reviews

Anonymous

Excellent advice and customer service.

Posted 1 month ago

Aneet G

I would definitely recommend Redmans. Very impressed with service provided. They were extremely proactive in handling my case which made things easier for me. Provided sound advice and resolution. Special credit for this goes to Chris who dealt with my case with great determination and consideration.

Posted 1 month ago

Fern M

Very efficient and friendly

Posted 1 month ago

Neville S

A professional and friendly service, which I would highly recommend.

Posted 1 month ago

Daniel T

Extremely helpful and made a bad situation much more manageable. Where other solicitors seemed disinterested in my situation Redmans immediately made me feel like it was a team effort to achieve a more favourable outcome

Posted 1 month ago

Paul T

Excellent, quick and informative. Chris was a real star and gave me confidence during the uncertainty if a redundancy settlement.

Posted 1 month ago

Marina E

Felt in very capable hands was listened to and given excellent advice. Would not hesitate to recomend and use again if needed.

Posted 1 month ago

Rosa B

Fabulous service all round.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Redmans were quick to respond to my enquiry and dealt with my case professionally and personably. I received sound advice and was put at ease by Chris Hadrill, Partner.

Posted 1 month ago

Alkhas K

Excellent service.

Posted 1 month ago

Mathias G

Contacted them regarding my end of employment agreement. Chris Hadrill dealt with it and was done and handed back to employer same day more than happy with there service.

Posted 2 months ago

Mark W

Most professional from start to finish offering very a personal service. Most impressive and quick when dealing with the matters in hand.

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Posted 3 months ago

submit

I am very glad I came across Redmans Solicitors. Fantastic service!

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Fantastic communication, always happy to answer queries, highly recommended.

Posted 3 months ago

Wavenie B

They were very straight to the point, friendly and understanding people. I felt they had my best interest. They were easy to get hold of, replies were almost instant. 5/5 for customer service

Posted 3 months ago

Christina P

Caroline was fantastic to work with - extremely knowledgeable, supportive, thorough and honest. I definitely recommend Redmans!

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Very well done and fast support. Professional and reliable. Highly recommended!

Posted 3 months ago

Helene L

They were very knowledgable in the respected area in terms of change in law/regulations that is crucial for the clients who are seeking for legal arvice.

Posted 3 months ago

Sara R

Very helpful and wonderful advice

Posted 3 months ago

Marie D

very good service all digitalised

Posted 3 months ago