Guides / 30 May 2022

6 Steps to Take if Your Music Is Stolen

As an artist, it’s always a terrible feeling to find out that your music has been used without your permission. Not only do you miss out on potential earnings, but you also feel like your years of hard work through taking guitar, vocal, piano lessons, etc, and applying that knowledge to an original piece of music is all for nothing.

However, if this has happened to you, not all hope is lost! If your music gets stolen online, there are a few things you can do to try and get it back.

Take a step back and gather evidence

You’ve just found out that your song has been stolen. You’re feeling angry and a little helpless – that’s normal and okay. But before you take any drastic action, it’s important to take a step back and gather evidence. The first thing you should do is try to determine which parts of your song were stolen. If the infringing material is substantially similar to your own, it may be sufficient evidence of infringement. 

Next, you should try to determine when the infringing material was created. If it was created after your own song, it’s much more likely that infringement occurred. Finally, you should try to assess the value of your song. This can be tricky, but if you can prove that your song has significant monetary value, you may be able to recover damages from the infringer. 

By taking the time to gather evidence, you can put yourself in a strong position to protect your rights and present your case to a qualified professional.

Copyright your music as soon as possible

If you suspect someone has stolen your music, you should complete a copyright registration as soon as possible. This will provide you with legal protection in the event that the infringer hasn’t yet completed their own copyright registration. If you can get this step completed before them, you’ll have a much better chance of winning any sort of copyright infringement case as well as recovering lost compensation. 

Of course, registering your music won’t guarantee that you’ll never have to deal with theft, but it will give you a much better chance of protecting your work and recovering any losses.

You can reference this copyright.gov PDF which clearly outlines the requirements needed for copyright registration in the US.

Contact an entertainment attorney

If you want to properly recover any stolen musical property, it’s in your best interest to contact an entertainment attorney. They can help you to determine whether you have a case and, if so, what your next steps should be. 

In some cases, it may be possible to recover damages or get an injunction against the infringer. In any case, it is important to protect your work and make sure that you are compensated for your creativity.

Reach out to other artists for advice

If you’re in the music scene you likely know many other artists, and some of them may have even gone through this very situation. Therefore, reach out to them to see if they can offer advice and support. They may even be able to put you in touch with attorneys or other professionals who can help you resolve the issue. 

Speak out on major platforms to spread the word

If you find that your music has been used without your permission, it’s important to speak out. Let the community know what happened and provide as much evidence as you can to swing the pendulum in your favor. 

Even reaching out to major news publications and offering to share your story is a good idea to spread the word about what happened. This will help to deter future theft and also let the infringer know that you’re serious about protecting your work. 

By taking a stand, you can help to protect your rights and ensure that your music is used only with your permission.

Issue a DMCA takedown notice

If your music was stolen and uploaded online to a platform or website, you can issue a DMCA takedown notice. The notice must be sent to the web host or service provider and must include specific information about the infringing material. 

Once the notice is received, the service provider will review your case and remove the material in question if it has been deemed a copyright violation. Be aware that filing a false takedown notice can lead to serious legal consequences, so be sure that you have a good faith belief that the material in question is infringing on your copyright. 

If you’re not sure whether or not you have a case, you can always consult with an attorney.

About the author: Cody is the founder of Musician Tuts, a free tutorial hub for musicians. He has over 15 years of experience playing a variety of instruments and dabbling in audio engineering. He spends his days blogging, listening to Spotify, and playing music.

Read more: Introducing Opportunities: Get your next big break

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