Don't Blame Yoko
Willaert, Alan, International Musician
More frequently, the Canadian Office has had to process member to member cases that involve intellectual property issues. As technology has allowed for the easy setup of websites and social media accounts, bands have enjoyed marketing techniques that were only a dream 20 years ago.
Along with the ease of creating and distributing audiovisual product, come new challenges when the relationships within a self-contained band go south. For example, a five-piece ensemble, where the leader also owns the truck and production, decide to fire the guitar player. The appropriate two-week notice is given, and a new guitar player is hired. However, the original guitar player is upset because the band continues to promote and sell recordings from their website, which he not only performed on, but co-wrote. In addition, his image is still used on the website and in other promotional materials and vehicles. The complaint is that he was never compensated for the writing, recording, or subsequent use of the product. Add to the mix that there is no AFM paper covering these recordings. While the AFM Bylaws allow us to process a claim for proper compensation for recording, we have no jurisdiction over the intellectual property aspects.
If you are already confused at this point, you are not alone. Many musicians join bands and never give a thought to what kind of relationship they have just entered into, or what the ramifications might be. A few years back, Toronto lawyer Craig Parks created a document for musicians entitled, "Married to the Band." The primary message was that, if you do nothing, the default legal relationship is a partnership, including being jointly and severally liable in the case of a lawsuit.
The best solution is to be proactive, and enter into a band agreement that everyone who joins the group signs. …