What should I do if someone is planning on performing a song I wrote without my permission? 2 Answers as of August 19, 2011I wrote a song. An individual has performed this song on many occasions and now this person intends to record this song on a cd. I have not given permission for the song to be recorded. Is there anything I can do? Also, the same person has expressed his intent to use a song he wrote about my minor child on his cd(it uses my child's name). I did not give my permission for that either.
Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver, PLLC | Thomas Mansfield Dunlap
In the United States the Copyright Act provides statutory protection for authors of original works. While there are some basic common-law copyright protections under the Berne Convention they fall far short of the practical statutory protection. Any author should consider registering a new work immediately, with the copyright office. If an unauthorized performance of the work occurs after registration then the author is in a good legal position to prevent the use of his or her work.
Answer Applies to: District of Columbia
Greenwald, Mayfield & Vigil, LLP | Darrell J. Greenwald
Regarding the public performance of your song, you need to register the song with a performance rights society such as ASCAP or BMI so that you can collect royalties for the performance of the song. Regarding the rerecording of the song, under current copyright law, if you have already published the song, you cannot prevent the other person from covering it and recording it on their album. However, if they do so, you will be entitled to a statutory fee for every album they sell that includes your song. Finally, with regard to use of your minor's name in this individual's song, you (or rather your child) has potential claims against the person based on your child's rights of publicity and privacy. In this regard you can sue on behalf of your child for both monetary damages and an injunction to prevent distribution and publication of the song.
Answer Applies to: California