Who owns the right to sue if someone steals your music?

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Different bands and labels may have a variety of approaches to how they manage their intellectual property. Everyone is familiar with the multitude of lawsuit filed by the RIAA against those suspected of illegally downloading music. Musicians not only put their heart and souls into their music, but for many of them it is their primary source of income. It is important that they are appropriately compensated by those whom consume their music.

While some artists and labels choose to vigorously protect their intellectual property, other musicians may prefer another approach. Regardless of how a rights owner chooses to manage their intellectual property, the keys factor is that they have the right to decide. That is why one band was very surprised when a lawsuit was filed in Florida seeking damages against individuals that had allegedly downloaded the band’s music. The band had never even heard of the entity that filed the lawsuits.

The band has reached out to their label to see if there was any legitimate reason that this third party that they had never heard of would be filing a lawsuit regarding the rights to their music. While there are licensing and rights management firms that do seek to enforce artists’ intellectual property rights on their behalf, there must be some formal assignment of the right to seek damages on behalf of the artists before such an entity can legitimately file a cause of action.

Source: Gizmodo, “Apparently, Copyright Trolls Don’t Need to Tell the Band When Suing Its Fans,” Andrew Tarantola, April 30, 2012