A Copyright Question

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by mikelyons, Sep 25, 2004.

  1. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    OK, Here's one for the copyright team.

    It seems that, sadly, Headline Music have stopped trading. What happens to the copyright on pieces that they have exchanged contracts on?

    The question is important to me, personally, as they have taken about 20 of my compositions/arrangements over the last 18 months and I know many of these were in production as they had them on their trade stand at Preston Contest.

    Does anyone know where the copyright resides in such cases? Does it revert back to the composer/arranger? (None of the arrangements were of copyright music)

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.
  2. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    Having not read the copyright faq (sorry) I may be completely off beam on this but does the copyright not always reside with you, the composer. Headline would only have had publishing rights?
  3. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    It depends in part on whether you assigned copyright to Headline Music (a company I know nothing about), or retained your own copyright, allowing Headline to print and sell the music. If you assigned to them copyright and their business is sold to someone else, the buyer usually assumes all copyrights. If they did not sell the business but ceased trading, the copyrights they held would most likely be transferred back to the composers. Have you checked the written contracts?

    John Martin says:
    Most mainline music publishers require copyrights to be assigned to them, unlike book publishers. There are, however, a number of small companies who allow composers to retain their copyrights.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2004
  4. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    I think this is a question for Dave Payn.

    (Back in the office Monday....)
  5. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Thanks guys.

    I've had a look at the contracts and the screed is:

    "The Writer hereby assigns to the publisher the full copyright for the world in the composition called:..."

    There is also a clause that says:

    "The performing right in the said work is owned by the Performing Rights Society..."

    Silver lining maybe?

    There is no mention of what happens when the publisher goes belly up.

    Where is that Dave Payne when you need him?
  6. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Well, he was (as were several Fulhamites) helping a band member move house early this afternoon, but knowing him, he'll be conducting or playing for another band tonight.
  7. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Thanks Will. I must remember the world doesn't revolve around my problems :)

    Oh to be so busy! I am so bored at the moment with being off work and not having any current inspiration that I like enough to write down. :(

    Sorry. Just feeling sorry for myself.

    *<--kicks self in backside with size 9

  8. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    I sympathise with your predicament here Mike, but I don't think all is lost. I agree that Dave Payn would certainly be the person to answer this question with the most accuracy, but my opinion on this would be that if the Publisher has ceased trading the Contract between you and Headline has become null and void, therefore the copyright is referred back to the original owner.

  9. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Thanks Roger, that eases my mind a little.

    Of course I now have to go through all the trauma of re-submitting them to other publishers. Anyone prepared to look at a flood of 20 second hand compositions and arrangements;)
  10. Keith Stanley James Lever

    Keith Stanley James Lever Supporting Member

    A Copyright Question...........

    Why not try Accent Music down in Camborne, Francis Evans is always on the lookout for fresh music to publish (he has published a good deal of my compositions)..........ACCENT MUSIC PUBLISHING, KEYBERRY HOUSE, 17 BASSET STREET, CAMBORNE, CORNWALL, TR14 8SW. Tele/Fax: 01209 710681 e-mail: sales@accentmusic.co.uk
  11. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Indeed that is the case in these situations. Copyright reverts back to you, Mike. After all, if the publisher does not exist to represent your rights, then the contract is indeed null and void, even if they don't exploit the pieces satisfactorily whilst they are trading.

    20 pieces you say..... well, my publishing firm gets up and running at the end of this year..... but there are plenty other publishers around here too! ;-)
  12. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    And why do some people inadvertently assume that after 41 years and 2 months, I can't spell my own surname......
  13. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe you need to have it copyrighted :shock:
  14. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    The thing is, Dave, I'm not sure Paynful music would sell very well ;)
  15. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Perhaps not but it might be a tad more successful than Headline was..... :)
  16. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member



    What was that about not hitting a man when he's down? :hammer
  17. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Wouldn't dream of it, Michael. :) After all, if a publisher has seen fit to take on 20 works of yours, then I'd say it's probably quality stuff. I'm sure you'll find someone else! ;-)
  18. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    I'm not sure this works the same way in other countries. In the US, for example, the assignment of the copyright to the defunct company would be considered an asset of that company (whether that copyright had actually been exercised or not). Unless the contract stipulated that the assignment could not be transferred to someone else without reverting to the composer, that asset could be sold to satisfy creditors when the company ceased trading. Patents and trademarks work in a similar fashion - a company that has gone into liquidation might be forced to sell patent or trademark rights in order to satisfy the creditors.

    The same thing would happen if the publisher merely wanted to sell the rights to another. Unless the contract specifically prohibited it, the publisher could have at any time sold the rights to some other company (often done as part of a merger).

    Over here, the prudent practice in copyright assignment contracts is to have a explicit clause that reverts copyright back if the company ceases to trade, or if they make no effort to market the work in a specified period of time. Unfortunately, such clauses are difficult to get - most publishers are reluctant to include them in their contracts. At the very least, a clause should be included that gives the composer the "right of first refusal" on any sale of the rights - in other words, when any sale is contemplated, the composer has the opportunity to buy the copyright for the same price proposed in the sale to a third party.
  19. Keith Stanley James Lever

    Keith Stanley James Lever Supporting Member

    mikelyons........ give ACCENT MUSIC a go, you might as well, what have you got to lose.........you may well be suprised.........
  20. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    This is the kind of thing I'm worried about. What wuld happen, say, if I passed my pieces on to someone else and a creditor later laid claim to owning the copyright?

    Keith, I've added them to my list of possibles :)

Share This Page