VH1′s Chrissy & Mr. Jones & Copyright Law

 

Unfinished Business Clip – Chrissy & Mr. Jones episode 101

On September 24, the VH1 Reality show Chrissy and Mr. Jones premiered.  The show chronicles the lives of hip hop artist Jim Jones, his fiancé Chrissy Lampkin, and his mother Nancy “Mama” Jones.  All three originally appeared in the VH1 show, Love and Hip Hop.

In the season premier, as recapped on the VH1 site, “Mama Jones has some drama in her life over the Psychotic Bitch song.  [Music producer Freddie Robinson, Jr.,] who produced the song, wants a cut of [Mama Jones] money, but she’s not having it.  As far as she’s concerned, she came up with the concept, therefore no one deserves a cut.  Freddie begs to differ claiming ownership rights.”

As an intellectual property attorney, I had to laugh during this scene.  Mama Jones is not alone in her thinking….I often have to explain to clients that an idea or concept is not entitled to copyright protection.  Copyright law only protects, original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.

In Mama Jones situation, Freddie has ownership rights to the track he produced for the song.  He would also have ownership rights in the lyrics if he wrote them.  Mama Jones should have had Freddie sign a work-for-hire agreement prior to producing the song if she wanted sole ownership rights to the Psychotic Bitch song.  Additionally, Freddie would not be entitled to revenue generated from the song under a work-for-hire agreement.

A work for hire agreement is a written contract, which essentially says, that the person or company who commissions a work from an author retains actual ownership and is, in fact, considered the legal author of the work.  The actual creator of the work has no rights to payment beyond what was promised in the initial work-for-hire agreement.

It appears that Mama Jones may find herself in the same position as Real Housewife of Atlanta star, Kim Zolciak.  In 2009, music producer, Don Vito initiated a lawsuit against Kim Zolciak for copyright infringement when she failed to compensate him for producing the song Don’t be Tardy for the Party.

Mama Jones can rid herself of all this drama by having Freddie sign a written agreement transferring all ownership rights to the Psychotic Bitch song over to her. Guess will just have to watch the rest of the season of Chrissy & Mr. Jones to see how this situation pans out for Mama Jones.  Today, Yvette, my administrative assistant informed me that in a subsequent episode Jim Jones and Freddie had “an encounter” about the song.  Yvette felt sorry for Freddie that he was being disrespected like he was nothing by another man.  She  wants to know how come both of them can have a close relationship with Mama Jones for all these years and not know each other.  I’ll leave that topic for Necole Bitchie and other bloggers to discuss.

Prior to posting this post, I had a conversation with my administrative assistant Yvette.

Contact J. Paye & Associates today to discuss your copyright needs.

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