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   Former drummer raising hell - what can I do?
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   Author  Topic: Former drummer raising hell - what can I do?  (Read 2349 times)
troswalt
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Former drummer raising hell - what can I do?
« on: Dec 2nd, 2007, 9:47pm »
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I have a question burning in my head and I'd love some insight.
I started a band about five years ago.  It started as a solo project.  Then I added a bass player, drummer, new drummer, new bass player, etc...  I played with one drummer for about a year and a half.  Not that it really matters but he was mediocre and extremely difficult to work with on both a personal and professional way.  Eventually he left town for about three months and that situation digressed into me replacing him in the group with a new drummer.  He literally went crazy and now has sent me a "cease and desist" email saying I can't use any and all material we worked on while he was in the band w/o his written consent.  I write all the songs in the group.  I generally write the music and lyrics at home, make various rough demos, and then flesh them out in practice together.  I'm very hands on about what I'd like him to play.  At best I'd say the band helps arrange the songs.   And I paid for and organized everything in the band as it was my project before and after he was in the band.  Also, we had no band agreement or anything spelling out our relationship together on paper.  
My question is how to protect what I consider my property and project against his desire to stop our progress.  Can I use the recordings he is on for whatever I like because I see myself as the sole songwriter on every song created?  Am I correct in assuming drums do not count as songwriting (given their not integral to a some hook - which they are not in this case)?  Do you have any tips to protect myself in this situation?  We are being shopped around to labels very soon and I'd like this to be worked out.
Thanks,
-t
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mactheknife
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Re: Former drummer raising hell - what can I do?
« Reply #1 on: Dec 3rd, 2007, 11:45am »
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There are a couple arguments you can make.  At worst (for you), he is only a co-author and co-owner of the songs and recordings, and any co-owner can make use of the work without other co-owners' permission.  It would be subject to you paying him a share of the profits, but it's not like he can hold you up.
 
At best, you can make an argument that the drummer was not a joint author because he did not contribute more than a "de minimis" amount of authorship.  If this is the case, you may not owe him anything.  This may fly, but it may not.  At the very least, you (or your lawyer, most likely) can raise it in your response to the C&D letter.
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troswald
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Re: Former drummer raising hell - what can I do?
« Reply #2 on: Dec 3rd, 2007, 5:35pm »
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Thanks for your thoughts.  How necessary is it to even respond to a cease and desist letter of this nature?  Does it make any difference?  
 
If as you say he's only the co-owner and I can still do what I like with the work what right does he say I need his written consent in order to use the work for anything?
 
He recorded nearly every practice we had together on a little digital recorder.  Is just being in the room and playing drums while I wrote the songs typically count as "de minimus" in authorship?  He never had any verbal contribution to the chords, melody, or lyrics - ever.
 
My primary interest is maintaining total control over the songs so that we can continue on our path as a band and be viable to the labels we're approaching.
thanks,
t
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troswald
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Re: Former drummer raising hell - what can I do?
« Reply #3 on: Dec 3rd, 2007, 5:38pm »
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Thanks for your thoughts.  How necessary is it to even respond to a cease and desist letter of this nature?  Does it make any difference?  
 
If as you say he's only the co-owner and I can still do what I like with the work what right does he say I need his written consent in order to use the work for anything?
 
He recorded nearly every practice we had together on a little digital recorder.  Is just being in the room and playing drums while I wrote the songs typically count as "de minimus" in authorship?  He never had any verbal contribution to the chords, melody, or lyrics - ever.
 
My primary interest is maintaining total control over the songs so that we can continue on our path as a band and be viable to the labels we're approaching.
thanks,
t
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Mindaugas
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Re: Former drummer raising hell - what can I do?
« Reply #4 on: Dec 3rd, 2007, 9:01pm »
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Do you have any actual recordings with the old drummer performing, which you are comercializing, or did he contribute to any music/lyrics that you now perform? If not, and as long as you are the sole author of the music/lyrics,  his rights only rest with the actual past performances and are essentially worthless.
 
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Mindaugas
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