In 2012, Dwayne Walker sued Jay-Z and Damon Dash--cofounders of Roc-A-Fella Records--for failing to pay him contractual royalties for creating the Roc-A-Fella logo back in the 90’s. Fortunately for Jay-Z and Damon Dash, the court dismissed Walker’s case this past September stating that Walker lacked sufficient evidence showing that a contract even existed.
This case should be the incentive for independent artist in the music industry to protect their logos and to take measures to obtain the full gamut of rights in artwork and graphics created by a third party. For example, a musician doesn’t own the copyright to his album cover if he only paid a graphic designer to create the album cover. The graphic designer could legally prevent the musician from publicly displaying, replicating and distributing the album cover. This would prevent the musician from selling any of his music online or in the stores with that album cover. Crazy, right! The musician would have paid for an album cover he couldn’t use to sell his album.
The music industry has changed. Artists are now focusing on making money through merchandising and brand affiliation. Therefore, their logos and other trademarks require protection to the full extent of the law. Waiting until you blow-up to think and act on this area is ill advised. Just imaging if Jay-Z and Damon Dash waited until they were some of the wealthiest hip-hop moguls to start protecting their trademarks. They would owe Dwayne Walker tens-of-millions of dollars rights now.
Independent music artist often overlook the importance of protecting their intellectual property or even identifying it. It well worth the investment to begin identifying and protecting your trademarks now. To learn more on how you can protect yourself as an independent artist visit www.vpartistconsulting.com.