Intellectual Property Thoughts for Musicians, Photographers, and Artists

Just a few thoughts (there are hundreds)…

Does your band have an operating agreement or other contract with all involved?

While it seems a band wouldn’t need this because it’s not a business, this isn’t exactly true. I’m a music lover and get that by calling a band a business it takes away from creative flow and imagination driven processes. However, let’s be honest. You are a business. You need a group contract and in it, it needs to describe who in the band owns what intellectual property.  

Have you thought not just about the art you are making but the capture of it?

For example, a client of ours is an interior designer. She worked with a company for 12 years and now has started her own business. She doesn’t own pictures of her own designs so couldn’t even make a portfolio to display/promote her new business. Luckily the photographer who was the copyright owner of the photos (not even her past boss), has allowed her to use pictures of her own designs.

What are your rules on replication or alteration?

In a recent contract we made for a photographer client we added that even clients who purchased photos would be able to reprint them. However, they would not be able to put new filters on them, photoshop them, and so on. What if your name or brand is on a photo that looks nothing like the one you made after it’s been edited?

Have you considered copyrighting?

A copyright unlike other intellectual property occurs right upon making an item. However, in order to stop someone from using it or regulate its use in court or any related procedure, one must register it with the United State copyright office. Song lyrics, art, photos, digital media, etc.

Have you trademarked the name of your art studio, photography business, or band name? You should. The process will start with doing a trademark knock-out search to make sure nobody else has the name. Better you know now who may have a similar or the same name before having to change it later on. Trademark protection of your name and/or logo will allow your lawyer to write cease and desist letters to other parties trying to infringe/copy you/profit off of your success.

At Rational Unicorn Legal Services we love artists of all kinds. Contact us today for a no cost 30 minute consult:


Michael Jonas