Flushing, NY asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for New York

Q: What can I do if my band mate refuses to return the only copies in existence of my original music works?

In late 1990s, I gave someone a box to hold containing cassettes of me playing guitar and singing, as well as rehearsals of the band. Those are the only copies in existence. I’m the songwriter. She now claims *in writing* that all the music belongs to her, after asking her to return them for more than 2 years, and plenty of evidence that shows that she is not the songwriter. She didn’t play guitar back then. She says there are 13 tapes. I gave her the tapes to hold because she was someone I trusted, and I associated the music with sexual assault that I experienced in 1995. This is when the band was put on hold. I have the lyrics in the original notebooks and printouts from back then. I have a witness that can attest that I gave her the box to hold. I last saw the tapes in her home in Summer 2021 but I didn’t take them because she said she would digitize all of them. At most, there are two songs that I co-wrote with her, arranged them into a song myself, and wrote the lyrics myself.

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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A: You can take legal action against your bandmate if they refuse to return the only copies in existence of your original music works. You may be able to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement, breach of contract, or conversion. In addition to filing a lawsuit, you may also be able to file a police report. You should keep a copy of all correspondence with your bandmate, gather evidence that proves you are the copyright holder of the music works, and find a lawyer who specializes in copyright law.

Jack Mevorach agrees with this answer

1 user found this answer helpful

Jack Mevorach
Jack Mevorach
  • Cedarhurst, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Have a free telephone consultation with counsel.


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