My father wrote and copyrighted a song in the 80's? The music was used in a popular Mexican Soap Opera that has since gone worldwide. He has the sheet music to prove his case. We need a lawyer that would not charge upfront costs, but which one would be best for the situation? It's so confusing.
Hello again, Yes, my Father is still alive. He is the only author of the song. It was registered with the Copyright office in the U.S.A. He did not sign any paperwork . He left a demo that was clearly labeled with copyright info at a record label in Florida , it was left to show his work as a songwriter. There were no transfers of anything or deals of any kind. It was more of a leave it and we will get back to you. They never asked for his permission and we caught it by accident when we lived near Chicago,IL and I heard by accident on a soap that my Mother had been watching. It is now apparently on DVD and shown on YOUTube. We found a snippet on YOUTube. The company when they were contacted always gave the run around. We now live in Florida. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thank you again! Question: Where should the lawyer be based? Florida is where the we live now and where the music was dropped at the record company. Does it matter? Thank you.
In many instances they can be one in the same. An entertainment lawyer will also be well versed in IP law just like a copyright lawyer. Typically an entertainment lawyer will focus on the arts and have a more talent oriented practice.
You need to find a lawyer that will handle this on a contingency basis. The problem is that there is really no way to know if you even have any merit to your case without investing time and attention upfront. It is unlikely (but not impossilbe) that a lawyer will be willing to do that for this kind of matter. It is not like a personal injury case where clearly someone is at fault.
I would have a number of questions for you. For example, is your father still alive? Was the song registered with the US copyright office? Are you sure there was no other authors involved? Are you sure there were no studio deals, transfers, assignments, etc involved? Where did the alleged infringer acquire the material?
The only thing you can do is reach out to entertainment and/or intellectual property attorneys and see what they say. Most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult.
The law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC (Home of Lantern Legal Services) offers our flat-rate legal services in the areas of business law and intellectual property to entrepreneurs, small-to-medium size businesses, independent inventors and artists across the nation and abroad. Feel free to call for a free phone consultation; your inquiries are always welcome: CONTACT: 866-871-8655 Support@LanternLegal.com DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.
Although many, if not most, attorneys who style themselves as 'entertainment lawyers' also know copyright law, there are copyright lawyers who don't consider themselves entertainment lawyers. Copyright is a substantive area of law, whereas 'entertainment law' merely describes a type of law practice. Entertainment lawyers typically handle myriad legal issues related to the entertainment industry—e.g., contracts & licensing, privacy & right of publicity, and some aspects of intellectual property law, mainly copyright.
Based on your scenario, you could consult with either a copyright lawyer or an entertainment lawyer. Whether you can find one to take your case without your having to risk or invest any money will depend largely on your market, and the likelihood of a monetary recovery, should you win your case. When a lawyer takes a case on straight contingency (typically meaning nothing out-of-pocket for the client) the lawyer is taking on a significant risk because there are many hard expenses that must be paid to initiate a lawsuit, and those expenses are a drop in the bucket compared with the value of the attorney's time, and the cost of overhead, support staff, payroll, etc.
I am admitted to practice in the states of New Jersey and Ohio. Regardless of where you are reading this, my comments are not intended to be legal advice per se, and nothing that I say is intended to create an attorney–client relationship.
As my colleague pointed out, copyright law is a single area of law in an entertainment lawyers practice. Entertainment attorneys represent clients within the entertainment industry in multiple areas of law. You should consult with an entertainment attorney in Florida for your matter.
Ivan J. Parron, Esq.
In this case, your father needs a copyright litigator with a familiarity of music law. Many entertainment and copyright lawyers aren't music lawyers, so when your father pitches this case to lawyers, he should have a copy of his copyright registration handy, because that can provide him with statutory damages as well as the right to attorney's fees, which should make it easier to find a lawyer on a "contingency" basis (no money upfront, although he might need to pay out of pocket costs, even if he finds a lawyer willing to be paid only if and when there's recovery).
Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.
Instead of getting bogged down in definitions, understand the help you need, and then go get it. You need a good lawyer who handles music copyright litigation. Most copyright lawyers are involved, in some degree or another, in the entertainment business. A word of caution: If the person you find does not also have experience in international law, you will likely need to find someone who does.
Professional Rules of Ethics require me to advise you that this is an offer of possible representation.