Intellectual property laws play just as important a role in Florida’s entertainment industry as they do in high tech. Copyright law and trademark law help give creators and companies exclusive rights. It is important for the rights holders to protect their rights, and make sure that anyone using their protected material has proper permission.
In a recent case, a theater company filed a lawsuit over the right to use classic pop songs by the British band, the Kinks, in a new production. According to their lawsuit, the producers of a musical play called “ModRock” wanted to use the Kinks’ 1960s songs “Sunny Afternoon” and “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” in the show and a soundtrack album, which tell a story based on the cultural changes going on in London in the 1960s.
To make sure they could legally use the songs, the producers contracted with a music clearance company to secure a license from Warner/Chappell Music, which controls the copyrights on the songs. According to their complaint, the producers were told that the songs were cleared for use Based on that promise, the producers claim to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing the show and album, both of which featured the songs prominently.
However, just a few days before the show was to open, the producers claim that Warner told them that the two Kinks songs were not cleared for use. Kinks songwriter, Ray Davies, wanted to use them in his own theatrical production, to be called “Sunny Afternoon,” which is scheduled to open sometime this year. The “ModRock” producers contend that until this point, neither Warner nor the music clearing company had told them that Davies’ permission was needed before they could use the songs.
The producers claim breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. Intellectual property laws are notoriously complicated, but much of the entertainment industry can hardly function without them. When negotiating a contract, it’s important to have the help of Florida attorneys who have a deep understanding of the law and the experience to know what kinds of problems may come up in the future.
Source: Courthouse News Service, “Rhubarb Over Stage Rights to Kinks Songs,” Matt Reynolds, Jan. 24, 2014
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