Episode 42: Solo: Truth Hurts – Copyrighting Derivative Works


Casey is an entertainment and digital media law attorney who helps influencers and creative entrepreneurs who struggle with navigating the legal side of their businesses and brands, specifically as it relates to contracts. She prides herself on helping creatives negotiate fair deals with Fortune 500 companies and leading entertainment brands, all while helping them build legally sound businesses that are built for generational wealth and impact. Here on the podcast, she normally does that through sharing the stories of successful entrepreneurs and influencers to help you learn from their mistakes. But occasionally, like today, switches things up and highlights popular culture. 

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4 Key Takeaways

 

  1. Always get in writing all of the co-owners of a copyright at the time of creation, so there aren’t any questions of ownership down the road. And if you use any portions of a previous work later, get permission. In the music industry, this is typically called “split sheets” and clearance. Without that clearance, you can’t get rights in the derivative work. 

 

  1. There are specific rights that are protected when a copyright is secured for your work. *If you think someone may be infringing, say something right away.

 

  1. Understanding these rights will help you to protect yourself and stay confident about how you and others can use your work.

 

  1. Make sure to protect yourself with a copyright in the very beginning so that you don’t run into legal issues, or have to scramble to protect your property in the future

 

Show Notes

 

[4:40] – Background of the lawsuit against Lizzo for Truth hurts

 

  • Brothers Justin and Jeremiah Raisen claimed they created Truth Hurts as a derivative work based on a song called Healthy that they created with Lizzo in 2017, two years before she broke out.

 

  • Lizzo claimed that the line “I just did a DNA test turns out I’m a hundred percent that bitch” was the only item to come out of the session with the brothers. She added that the line was inspired by a tweet that another songwriter, Jesse Saint John Geller, brought to the group’s attention. Geller is not part of the litigation.

 

[7:20] – Overview of Copyright Ownership Law & Derivative Works

 

  • What are the 6 exclusive copyright rights?
    •     The right to reproduce and make copies of an original work; The right to prepare derivative works based on the original work; The right to distribute copies to the public by sale or another form of transfer, such as rental or lending; The right to publicly perform the work; The right to publicly display the work, and The right to perform sound recordings publicly through digital audio transmission.

 

  • What is a derivative work?
    •     A derivative work is a work based on or derived from one or more already existing works.

 

  • To be copyrightable, a derivative work must incorporate some or all of a preexisting “work” and add new original copyrightable authorship to that work. The derivative work right is often referred to as the adaptation right. 

 

[9:30] – How does the law apply to Lizzo’s case?

 

  • The brothers are claiming that Truth Hurts is a derivative of a song that they own the copyright to.

[10:20] – Key Takeaways

 

  • Get everything in writing from the start.
  • Collaboration Agreements are a MUST
  • Know your rights.

 

Resources Mentioned During This Episode

 

  1. Collaboration Agreement Template
  2. Call Her Daddy Podcast Episode about IP and Collaboration Agreements

 

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