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Old 27th May 2019
Lives for gear
ionian's Avatar
In America, you definitely have to copyright. Don't believe any of that hype about mailing crap to yourself, or you own the file, or you didn't own the newspaper. If you don't have a copyright, no one cares. The law and lawyers are a necessary evil. Either understand how the legal system works so you can protect yourself, or prepare to be made into mincemeat.

I copyrighted an album and I had a chick actually copyright my songs after I copyrighted them! (Which is IP theft, not copyright infringement, by the way). She then served me with a lawsuit in supreme court claiming she wrote the songs and I stole them from her and she was suing me for complete ownership of my songs along with money for damages! Mind you, this woman wasn't even a musician and couldn't write a single song.

I found out later, she just thought the songs had tremendous commercial potential and would propel her to stardom and so it was some kind of a messed up power move to seize my songs from me.

Of course this daffy chick didn't realize I copyright my songs when I'm done writing them, long before I even submit them to anything commercial.

It's true that anyone can file a lawsuit for any reason. All it costs them is about $15, or so I'm told. I was served papers one morning by some guy who didn't even serve me! He shoved them in my neighbor's hand while my neighbor was taking out his trash, jumped in his car, and ran for his life. And don't think that bull**** about that you weren't served means anything. That means as much as mailing a song to yourself does. Because it was a supreme court case, I wasn't allowed to respond to the case - only a lawyer can. I called my entertainment attorney, sent him everything over, and he prepared a response.

Remember, that I still had the original copyrights to the song. In the end, the case was dismissed but it took 2 years and $17,000. And I got lucky with the expenses, that's on the cheap side. Of course the girl was willing to drop the entire case in exchange for the ownership of the songs. She didn't think I'd fight her, but I fought the crazy b!tch tooth and nail. In the end I won because I had the original copyrights. If you think mailing a song to yourself or some other crap would have carried any water in this situation, you're crazy. You need to be involved in a few lawsuits to understand how much, and how rock solid your evidence needs to be, and then some.

Think about it - two years, $17,000 and that was with me owning the original copyrights.

As far as the IP theft, yes she broke the law by doing that but since she hasn't done anything with the songs, there's no money to win so there's no point in even breeching that lawsuit. I'll win the lawsuit, but congrats, I won a lawyer bill. If she ever does anything with my songs that results in any revenue (READ: Even if she releases a free album claiming their hers, it's not worth pursuing because there's no money) then I can go after her, but unless it's a significant amount of money, it's pointless.

This is what a lot of people don't get who aren't in the music business professionally is that when you hear about someone suing another person over a song 5 years after the fact, people are like, "Why is he suing him now? Why didn't he do this when the song was released?" It's because there's NO MONEY. You need for there to be significant money involved before people are interested in a lawsuit of that nature.

For example, if Pharrell steals a song of mine and it becomes a hit, you can bet your ass I'm sitting back for 5 years and letting him do all the work - all the promotion, all the licensing, and let him build up a few tens of millions of royalties before I come out of nowhere and slap him with a lawsuit and get my money. I don't want to hit him right out of the gate and risk him pulling it off the shelves and not licensing it. I want him to do what he does and license the hell out of it to make maximum money before I come out and take it from him.

Anyway, it's just a cautionary tale - copyright your songs, anything less and you're fooling yourself. Either that or just give them away because at that point and don't be shocked if someone steals them and you have no recourse. Even when you have the copyright, it's a hell of a battle.

As for me, I think the chick was just nuts- I don't think this is a normal occurrence. Someone told me they bumped into her at a party a few months after the lawsuit and she was still carrying on, telling anyone who would listen that she was gonna be bigger than lady gaga and I took it all away from her. Crazy world, man.