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Copyright Infringement on Ridley Scott's "Raised By Wolves" TV Programme


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As my notes slowly played out, it slowly dawned on me that the music playing "Raised By Wolves" was very familiar: They used my music which I posted on Youtube and used it on their TV Programme. All their "Composers" have done is sampled my music and stretched it out over 32 seconds - you can hear it between 9m 53s and 10m 25s in Episode 5. They also added a lot of reverb, but it's my tune note for note. That particular musical composition of mine has been on Youtube since the beginning of June 2020. Their production has only just been released. Any advice about what I can do about this would be appreciated.

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So you emailed a friend, who may have passed it on to his brother in law and they may have passed it on etc etc.   In the end your music file is just added to a long list of music and given

I'm sure we would all like to listen to the track on the YouTube video in question. Maybe you could post it up here. This is a very interesting story and you will have two problems. First of all

I'm afraid that this would not be a valid argument. Even if you give a piece of music away, it doesn't mean that you have also transferred copyright. Copyright can only be transferred by an assig

I'm sure we would all like to listen to the track on the YouTube video in question. Maybe you could post it up here.

This is a very interesting story and you will have two problems. First of all establishing that the copyright work is yours, and then deciding what the value of the work is. I think there would be no question of preventing its use at this stage and if it went to court I can imagine that a court would eventually decide that a certain figure of award would adequately compensate you for the use of your copyright work.

I had initially thought that the company which owned the rights to the film was a US company – but in fact I think they are London based and it is Ridley Scott's production company in partnership with an American company based in Los Angeles. I suppose that another problem will be to discover who is actually the copyright owner in the film.

Whoever it is, the film company has a problem because they have created the film and presumably they are licensing out to TV companies all over the world and also eventually to Netflix or Amazon prime. When these companies buy the rights to screen a particular production, they expect that it comes as a package with no loose ends and no disputes over the ownership of the rights in the work.
It looks as if you are going to upset the apple cart – although don't expect it to be easy.

As it happens, many years ago I was doing some high altitude gliding in Scotland – almost 26,000' - I had a video camera with me and I videoed quite a lot of the flight. I remember it was quite a big camera in those days and trying to jostle it as well as control the glider, I put my thumbprint on the lens which you can see in the video going back and forth as the lens hunted for focus. I was very annoyed about that.

 

A few months later somebody contacted me and told me that a TV company had produced an edition of "how do they do that" on high altitude gliding and they were going to use some of my footage.
They had turned up at the airfield in Scotland but the weather had gone to worms and they were unable to do any high level flying and simply took film of takeoffs and landings. Somebody told them that they had a copy of my video and the film team took it away.
It turned out that they used 29 seconds of my video in the final production, that was the only high level flying that they screened during the entire half hour.

Anyway, with two days to go, I phoned up the production company and told them I was the copyright owner and that we had something to discuss. My calls were never returned and on the morning of the transmission, I contacted the BBC and sent them a fax putting them on notice that they were about to commit a copyright breach.

The effect was transformative. Within an hour I received a telephone call from a producer of the TV company complaining that it hadn't been necessary for me to phone the BBC and that they were in the middle of sorting it out. I told her I didn't believe it. Anyway we finally settled on £800. I can tell you that she was outraged – but  I was faxed a contract within half an hour and the money was in my bank within a week.

I phoned my mum – she was very proud. All over the country people watched my thumbprint going back and forth on the lens – I was so chuffed.

Anyway, the story is only vaguely relevant to you. The series has been completed so it's a done deal. However, they will still be wanting to license it out and that would allow you to put pressure on people like Netflix et cetera and other TV companies. Which in turn would put pressure on the production company.

Of course all this sounds very simple and straightforward – but it's not. I'm just generally speaking sketching out the position.  It certainly is the case that every time an episode with your music in it is screened, there is a new copyright breach.

 

How has this music been produced? Is it electronic music produced with FL studio or something? Do you have full evidence of your work – preparatory work et cetera so that you can refute  any challenge to you as the copyright owner?

I think you are going to have to do some very solid research as to who is going to be using this TV series after the screening that is happening at the moment. In fact where has it been screened so far?

Is there a soundtrack for sale? Do you know if your piece of music is going to be repeated in any of the other episodes?

I think we really need to find out who is the owner of the TV series for starters.

Also when you eventually make an approach to them, I would suggest a very nonconfrontational approach to begin with in order to see what their attitude is. They may well be used to this kind of thing – even though they won't be happy with it.
Eventually you would aim to grant them full rights to your work including the rights to sublicense it to other companies – in return for a consideration.
We will have to try and work out how much it's worth – but it might well be a nice little earner for you.

I'm wondering if it's too late to negotiate a credit in the closing titles

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Given lockdown, I would have thought producers of the TV programme would have fully produced the series well before June 2020, when you say you added your track to YouTube.

 

Most TV series are put together at least a year before they appear on our screens.

 

Before you added your track to YouTube, had you made it available elsewhere?  

 

 

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That is something which concerns me – but on the other hand I know that music is generally speaking added right at the end of the production – and very often quite at the last moment.

However, this is broadly why I've said that very solid proof of copyright ownership needs to be established

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I've emailed Scott Free Productions today, letting them know that they have used my music.  In addition to requesting payment for my work, I cheekily asked for a credit as "Composer".  

 

Pointing out the issue with Amazon and Netflix is a great idea.  I wonder how I'd contact them?  Huge internet companies like that make finding a human to talk to extremely difficult. 

 

I'm a computer geek and have no official training in music.  I'm not a musician.  The only musical thing I can do is tune a guitar by ear.  I can however, draw notes onto a screen in MIDI and geekily "Play" a computer.  I use a very old version of "Sonic Foundry Acid" from 1996 and a lot of free VST (instruments & effects) from vst4free.com. 

 

Making odd noises helps me wind down and I sometimes post the odd strange sonic experiment on Youtube.  It feels more engaging, interesting and productive than watching TV.  Occasionally I get a lot of views. 

 

I tend to label - as in this case - my noises as trailers for upcoming movies such as "The Matrix 4 Trailer Final" or "James Bond - No time To Die" or similar, to get more views.  My hypothesis is that the "Composers" may have been looking for inspiration at some stage and perhaps looked at trailers on Youtube, stumbled on my little unfinished tune, took a fancy to the first few notes and sampled it. 

 

They've managed to stretch my 10 unique notes into 32 whole seconds of atmosphere, but it's unmistakeably my instrument sound and my exact notes in the same order.  Their processing of my sample is lovely, I might add, far better than I could achieve on my zero budget.  But all they have done is alter the timing of the notes, not the sequence, then added some very cavernous layers of atmospheric reverb after playing it through a guitar cab and resampling through a microphone held close to it - a standard technique. 

 

As for how I can prove it:  I don't know.  I don't write music as notation but I have all of the project files on my computer as MIDI. 

 

I did email off a copy several months before June 2020 to a friend who's brother-in-law used to make soundtracks for independent films.  The email sent might be evidence.  I tend to email family and friends with my odd noises, to amuse them. 

 

It's an unfinished bit of music, it hardly qualifies as that really.  I haven't registered on PRS and I don't at all regard myself as a musician.  Don't judge to harshly - they used the first 10 notes of my set of notes here and those 10 notes are all that you need to hear - ignore the rest.  Yes I know it's embarrassing and not terribly impressive, but I'm no professional:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Please can you avoid posting in a long block of text. It makes it very difficult to read. Proper spacing and punctuation would be very helpful

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I think it's a shame that you have notified them already. You came here for help and I think you should have waited for advice.

Nothing beats excellent preparation – especially when dealing with a big company.

I think you should set about preparing your position which means gathering all the evidence of your copyright ownership. Then finding out as much as you can about the TV series and where it is being screened, who owns the copyright, who actually arrange the music for the episode – and maybe the entire series. Also, to what extent are they using your music? Are they proposing to use it for future episodes?
If they are intending to use it for future episodes, then there is a risk that your notification may prompt them to revisit that part of the music and to redo it to reduce their exposure. This would have been a bad move by you because you would then lose value.

I think you should stop rushing in

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Please will you post up the email that you sent

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Yes, I need to work out if the Soundtrack has been released and a zillion other things.  It's just that I noticed it last night and I really haven't a clue as to how to prove my copyright.  They could indeed simply replace 32 second of the soundtrack of Episode 5.

 

This is my email, I was very annoyed:

 

---------------------------------

Quote

Dear Scott Free Productions

One or both of your musicians who are credited with the soundtrack for your new "Raised By Wolves" TV programme have stolen my music and used it on Episode 5.  The first note starts at just after 9m 53s and the last note ends at about 10m 25s.

I have attached my music for you to compare - watch episode 5 between 9m 53s and 10m 25s.  I have analysed and measured the notes: These are my notes in the same sequence and they've sampled my instrument!  There are too many notes for this to be a coincidence.  One or both of your composers are selling you the work of at least one other person without their permission. That particular short musical piece, which I composed, has been on Youtube since the 8th June 2020.  Your "Composers" have have simply sampled my music, stretched it out and added reverb - but it's unmistakably my tune and my instrument sound, note for note, and I can prove it.  I could not believe my ears as my sound and notes slowly played out, and it dawned on me that it was my music on your TV programme.  You have no right to use my music without my permission!  You have incorporated my music in your production without my permission and I would like to be paid for your use of my music.  I also want my name mentioned in the Credits.  I am very angry about this, but Ridley Scott is one of my favourite Directors and as such I would much rather this matter not go to Court unless absolutely necessary.  If I don't hear from you, you leave me no choice but to file a copyright infringement case against you.  I will also make a formal complaint to PRS and the Government Ombudsman.

Yours sincerely,

 

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Incidentally, I see that you say that you "cheekily" asked for credit as a composer.

First of all, once again you are rushing in – but anyway to express your request as a cheeky request suggest that you consider that you are subordinate in this. Although they are more powerful than you, on the basis of what you say you have the Right on your side and in fact in terms of rights they are subordinate to you.

I don't see that you should position yourself so that it is as if you are approaching them hoping they will do you a favour.

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I just read the email that you sent. Did you send this before or after I had posted my initial advice?

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It is kind of cheeky really but you make a a good point - I just didn't want to express myself with any anger.  I'm miffed that they employed musicians who steal other people's work.  Making unique little melodies is one of the hardest things in the world to do.  At least it is for me.  It must be even more difficult for real composers to have to create new tunes every single day - the temptation to simply steal from Youtube from nobodies must be overwhelming when you have deadlines. 

 

 

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Please address my question as to when you sent this email

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Thank you.

You say that you didn't want to express yourself with any anger yet am afraid that your email is exactly that. It is confrontational. It suggests that the Work has been stolen and it has started off by making threats.

I'm sorry that this is an absurd way to go about dealing with this kind of thing in the world of adults. You risk damaging your own position – partly because when they see this kind of rant they are less likely to take you seriously – but also because they will go on the defensive and they will batten down.

I suggest that you cool your heels and start doing some research.

First. Putting together all the evidence of your ownership of this Work. That means not only make sure you got evidence as to the publication date of your Work – – but presumably it took you some time before the publication of it to complete it. Have you got evidence of that? I'm talking about files with dates et cetera. Gather them all together in one folder and also make sure that you have a backup

If you emailed versions of this to your friends or relatives – then make sure that you got all of those emails safely stored away and backed up.

Then start finding out more about the production – when is the final episode aired? I suggest that you do nothing until you have listened to all the episodes and you can be certain that no more of your music has been used.
I'm sorry to say but it was really quite foolhardy to jump in when you don't really know the extent of the copyright breach or the strength of your position.



 

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I reasoned that by getting in early, I'd force them to bundle me into their Royalties or something, but they can of course simply edit my music out.  It has been streamed to a substantial number of viewers already.

 

 

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You're abslutely right about everything.  I have a compelte clone of my hard disk as backup, plus the original hard disk itself  which is about to be retired and put into storage anyway (it's at least 10 years old, which is why it's been cloned) and all of my emails are backed up. 

 

I'll get researching.

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Well it's rather too late for them to edit it out now in respect of episodes which are already screened – although if they want to license it out of course they could then alter the soundtrack.

As far as bundling you into their royalties goes, the problem is that you don't know the extent to which they are using your music. You don't know whether they are continuing to use it in other episodes. You have no idea what plans they have to license the episodes out to other platforms. In other words you have no idea of the value of the copyright breach. Although it will be difficult for you or us to estimate the value because we don't understand how this world of film production works, at least we can get an idea of the extent to which they are proposing to use it.

I think you have to understand that you're not going to be able to force them to do anything – unless you eventually take court action. These people are massive with huge resources and of course if they're really silly they could decide to spend a lot more on crushing you then it would cost them simply to pay you a decent royalty in return for you going away.

This is why your confrontational approach is so potentially damaging – because whereas this is something that could be negotiated and settled to everybody's satisfaction, by challenging them, you risk getting somebody's back up which would prompt them to dig their heels in even if it becomes more costly to them.

I understand your outrage at having your copyright work used, but am afraid that this is probably something which comes with the territory and the answer is to resolve it by negotiation to mutual satisfaction. You don't do that by starting fighting without trying some dialogue.

Also, as you've already suggested, the production company is probably completely unaware. I'm quite sure that they would be very fastidious about respecting rights in copyright works. Clearly they have delegated the task of producing the music track to somebody who is may be inexperienced or maybe less scrupulous. I can imagine that that person will probably get their arse kicked at some point.

 

I suggest that you get printouts of everything that is printable – emails – notes et cetera. At some point you will need hardcopy

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> I can imagine that that person will probably get their arse kicked at some point.

 

The trouble with music is all the drugs - I can't count the number of creative people I have refused to have anything to do with because of what they smoke, snort or pill drop who knows what.  The weird thing is, they think it's part of their creative process to mess up their minds in the hope they come up with something original.  I doubt if Bach or Mozart had to do any of that.  Alcohol perhaps.  And of course it all changes how one sees risk.

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Well spend the next few days preparing and also researching the series and trying to find out where it's going to go. Find out how long the series is going to go on for – how many more weeks is going to be broadcast and then we can decide what to do.

I think your propaganda start off by sending a conciliatory letter to the production company – and I'm wondering whether it's possible to get a direct contact email for Ridley Scott.

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>next few days preparing and also researching

 

Will do.

 

>conciliatory letter

 

I'll start crafting one now.  Must avoid coffee.

 

>direct contact email for Ridley Scott.

 

I copied him into that first email, having guessed his email address.  It might be read by his PA or secretary first and not passed on.  Or it might have been an incorrect guess - the email didn't get bounced back.

 

 

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So you emailed a friend, who may have passed it on to his brother in law and they may have passed it on etc etc.

 

In the end your music file is just added to a long list of music and given a new title. The owner of the track is most likely listed as the last person who passed it on, to whoever registered it.

 

The argument will be that you gave it away for free, as you set no terms to whoever you passed it onto.

 

As Bankfodder says this is much more complicated. I very much doubt you will receive any response from Scott free or anyone else connected to the production of this TV programme.

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We could do with some help from you.

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Don't send off any more messages without posting them here first.

Here's a link to where you could end up – although you really don't want to  https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/copyright-tribunal

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1 minute ago, unclebulgaria67 said:

 

 

The argument will be that you gave it away for free, as you set no terms to whoever you passed it onto.

 

 

I'm afraid that this would not be a valid argument.

Even if you give a piece of music away, it doesn't mean that you have also transferred copyright. Copyright can only be transferred by an assignment in writing. Anybody – but especially in a professional production company would be required to assume that there is a copyright issue with any piece of music that they come across

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> Copyright can only be transferred by an assignment in writing

 

It's the same with photos:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_selfie_copyright_dispute

 

The Macaque couldn't write, therefore copyright remains with the Macaque.

 

I'll research and craft a very polite letter.  I won't make a move until posting up here first. 

Edited by erikborgo
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