COPYRIGHT / TRADE MARK / MORAL RIGHTS
Artist, recorded music
Deadmau5 has launched a legal action in Ontario, Canada, against his former business associates over allegations that her company has released remixes of his early work without the required prior written permissions. The Hollywood Reporter says that a decade ago DeadMau5 (Joel Zimmerman) had worked with Canadian label Play Records at the beginning of his career. Initially he created remixes for the company, and later signed publishing and management agreements with the firm and its co-founder Melleny Brown (also known as Melleny Melody or Melleefresh).
After relocating to London in 2007, Zimmerman switched his management contract, and negotiated the ending of his contracts with Brown. That deal saw Zimmerman pay a sum of money to Play Records, and he also assigned ownership of some of his early songs and recordings to the company. However, that deal seemingly provided that any future remixes of those tracks could not be released without his “prior written consent”.
Zimmerman now claims that Play has released new remixes of his early work without his OK, and has plans for more releases, breaching his contact rights, as well as infringing his trademarks and moral rights under Canadian copyright law. The Trade Mark action has been launched because the defendant allegedly used the Deadmau5 registered marks on its new releases, the latter because the remixes are “not of good technical and commercial quality”.
Moral rights are the rights that run alongside the ‘economic’ rights in a work that are protected by copyright. They are more prevalent in civil law jurisdictions (whose laws developed from mainland Europe) than common law jurisdictions (whose laws developed from English law) but usually as a minimum provide the creator of the work – the author – with the right to be identified as the author (“attribution”) and conversely the right to have a work published anonymously or pseudonymously, and the right to object to derogatory treatment of their work (“integrity”). The right of integrity can prevent the mutilation, distortion or destruction of a work that is likely to harm the author’s reputation. The phrase “moral rights” come from the French phrase “droit moral” and do apply in Canada.
This is the second high profile music publishing cases have involved moral rights: In the Jay Z ‘Big Pimpin’ case, the heirs of Egyptian songwriter Baligh Hamdy claimed that they would never have agreed to the use of Hamdy’s music in the context Jay Z had used it – in a risqué song with overtly sexual undertones.
Deadmau5 has had an on-off battle with Disney over both his own logo mark (above) and the entertainment giant’s allegedly unlicensed use of his music.