Several years ago I co-wrote a song, which was subsequently placed on a big Hollywood film franchise. There’s a very good chance that you will have seen this film and heard my song since it was a massive box office success. We were invited to the Film Premiere and walked the red carpet. It was every musician’s dream come true but over the last three years it has become a complete nightmare.
My writing partner (let’s call him Mr Smith) and I decided to set up our own Publishing Company with the assistance of Mr Smith’s dad. We had already spent the last 13 years in a band together writing and performing our own music and this seemed like a logical step forward for both of us. We intended to use our newly established Company to promote our songs and collect any income generated by them. Musicians usually sign over a percentage of their song copyright to a Publishing Company to do this administrative work for them, but by doing it all ourselves we would be able to retain 100% of the copyright and 100% of the income generated by our songs. On setting up our Company we signed a Partnership Agreement to reflect our commitment to run the Business together and to split everything equally between us. I signed 50% of all my songs to our new Company on this basis, as did Mr Smith.
Are you with me so far? Because this is where it starts to unravel!
Our arrangement worked well at first but over the years, Mr Smith and his dad started to make decisions about how the money was to be spent, increasingly to my disadvantage. Gradually I came to realise that nearly all of the money was actually being diverted into building a music career for Mr Smith. I approached my “Business Partners”and asked for the situation to be rectified. They refused. I spent a further year trying to get them to honour our original agreement (that everything would be equal) but without any success. At this point I felt that I had no option but to resign from any active role within the Company as this was very clearly no longer a Partnership. Upon my resignation I asked them to safeguard the money that I had invested into the company and to make arrangements to start repaying the 7 years worth of royalties that were still owed to me. They refused to do so. In fact, it is worse than that. They are now saying that I didn’t invest anything. They also claim that I was never a part of the Company, claiming that the Partnership Agreement we had all signed was “merely an illustration” of what we could have signed! But we DID sign it!
My Lawyers have advised me that I have a good claim against Mr Smith and his dad for unpaid royalties and unpaid wages, somewhere in the region of £130,000 and I have a huge amount of written evidence to support my case.
I have exhausted every possible means of trying to resolve this conflict over the course of the last three years by attempting to reach a fair resolution for everyone involved. I have even offered to drop my claim for unpaid wages in return for complete severance of all contracts. Sadly neither Mr Smith nor his dad would engage in this process and they are now ignoring letters from my Lawyers. My ex-business Partners refuse to acknowledge our signed Partnership Agreement but continue to collect my royalties and take 50% of my money for themselves. I cannot allow this to continue and my only means of holding them accountable is to issue legal proceedings. The police are unable to get involved due to the complex contractual elements. This means that the civil courts must deal with it.
Seems simple right?
My Lawyers tell me that just to issue legal proceedings will cost around £25,000. If the dispute goes all the way to trial then it will cost in the region of £150,000 due to the complexities of the case. It would appear that my ex-Partners are hoping to escape liability simply on the basis that I cannot afford to take them to Court! They are continuing to collect my royalties and whether I receive any of this money at all is completely in their hands. I have been left struggling to pay rent and to support my family due to Mr Smith and his dad withholding payments that were contractually due to me. Mr Smith is using my money to pay his own mortgage and build a career for himself whilst I am trapped in a vicious cycle of renting. I am unable to save a deposit to buy a home for my family due to extortionate private rental charges and my three year old son has already had three different homes.
NO-ONE SHOULD BE ABOVE THE LAW.
I need to take this matter to Court to obtain a formal and enforceable resolution. I need the Court to sever all of the contracts that were signed so as to prevent them from making any more money from my songs.
And this is where you come in.
It goes against all of my instincts to ask for help, and I’m uncomfortable that I have to, but it’s either this or admit defeat. I’m not ready to give up just yet and I have done all I can on my own. But we are stronger together.
Can you afford to donate even the price of a cup of coffee to help me raise the money I need to get justice?
If you can’t afford to donate, DON'T WORRY, YOU CAN STILL HELP -
PLEASE SHARE MY STORY.
Perhaps you know someone who has been totally screwed over by a friend?!
Perhaps you know someone who works in a creative job, such as a musician, a photographer or an artist who will sympathise with my situation?
I just need enough people to care……….
Dr Luther King said: “INJUSTICE ANYWHERE IS A THREAT TO JUSTICE EVERYWHERE.”
If you have made it this far, thank you!
I am not in this to make a profit. All I ask is for the opportunity to seek a fair resolution. If I am able to recover from the Court any of the legal costs that I have raised by crowdfunding, I will donate those funds to the registered Charity “Help Musicians”. https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/
I have intentionally not divulged any of the personal details as this is a sensitive legal matter. If you know any of these details, please do not disclose them.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. PLEASE SHARE IT.