If I wrote a song and then left my band can they change the lyrics and say it was theirs?

Asked over 1 year ago - Colorado Springs, CO

Me and the guitarist got in a fight and he said it was his song because he changed 50% of the lyrics also if that is false how would I go about suing if he uses it?

Additional information

I for got to add I am trying to get information I can use to tell him so that I don't have to take legal action I would prefer not to go to court unless absolutely necessary and as I said in a comment below the band is almost signed (the rest of the band members are almost 18) so it's not just a petty dispute of friends that is unimportant.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Frank Anthony Natoli

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

    6

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    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . Hi,

    So your situation is not entirely clear and it connotes several legal issues.

    First, in a band situation the intellectual property created is often highly contested. In general, if your other member contributed 50% of the song then he would be a co-author and you both would have an interest in the copyright. This would mean that either of you could do anything you wanted with the material but would have an obligation to share any proceeds with the other authors.

    It is hard to say anything for certain here, but it sounds as if the first question is who was the author of the original work? If you alone, then what you descrbed would be an infringement because the second work would be a derivative work.

    I read your comment below and see you are rather young. If you believe honestly that this material is commercially viable, I would advise that you have your parents consult a lawyer with you to conduct a case/matter analysis and explore all options. You should do this ASAP so it does not get too far ahead of you.

    I will link you to some helpful copyright legal info below. Most lawyers here, including myself, offer a free phone consult so you should probably reach out to one so they can better understand all the facts here.

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC
    (see Disclaimer)

    The law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC (Home of Lantern Legal Services) offers our flat-rate legal services in the... more
  2. Jon Kenneth Perala

    Contributor Level 11

    6

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . It could depend largely on what kind of agreement you had with your ex-bandmates. You may recall that John Lennon and Paul McCartney had an agreement that they would share equally the writing credits on any song either of them wrote for the Beatles. Lennon and McCartney collaborated on most of their songs, but some songs were written entirely by one without any input from the other, although both received equal credit. One famous example of this is the song "Yesterday", written entirely by Paul, but because of their arrangement, half the writing credits to John.

    Barring the existence of a written agreement with the other members, ownership of the song would have to be determined through testimony of you and the guitarist and other members, and how the writing credits on other songs were handled by the band.

  3. Bruce E. Burdick

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . See an Entertainment Lawyer, you have given only part of the needed facts.
    Yes, they can change the lyrics and say it's theirs. But, maybe they are wrong, or maybe right.
    If what is false? that he said that? that it is his? that he changed 50%? It's confusing to say 3 things and then say if "that" is false.
    How would you go about suing? Really, you don't know that? You get a trial lawyer, you pay the trial lawyer, the lawyer drafts a complaint and the lawyer files it with the clerk of the appropriate court. That presumes, of course, that you have any case [which is not clear] and that he doesn't have a right to use it [ which it he likely does have a right to do.]

    In short, you are too emotional and self-righteous for most trial lawyers to take at face value.

    Perhaps I am wrong, but the way I hear you is that you have already convinced yourself this is your song and you can sue to stop the band you gave it to and you are not really open to any other reality.

    This sounds suspiciously like a deluge of prior postings labeled as coming from Denver, Colorado.

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is... more
  4. Philip Leon Marcus

    Contributor Level 16

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Candidly, regardless of he said/he said, and especially among 16 year olds--who probably cannot legally make agreements regarding ownership of copyrights—this screams out for parents to get involved. They should resolve the entire matter via an agreement of compromise among them. Else I can foresee litigation that costs each parent-set 10 or 15 thousand or more, over a song that will not have that much revenue ever.

    Licensed in Maryland with offices in Maryland and Oregon. Information here is general, does not create a lawyer-... more

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