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Topic: Ghost Writer Sues Universal (OT)

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  1. #1

    Ghost Writer Sues Universal (OT)

    Hi,

    While this maybe should go into the general discussion forum, I recall reading some questions here recently on ghost writing and how unfair it may seem to the writer. So I figured that I would post it here for anyone curious.

    Have a read through this article. I would have figured that the main composer would have had a clause in the contract he would have signed with the ghost writer so that this would not happen.

    Interesting anyway.

    FV

  2. #2

    Re: Ghost Writer Sues Universal (OT)

    Wow! I never knew about that practice...It makes my stomach turn thinking about my music being used that way.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Ghost Writer Sues Universal (OT)

    Considering the information we are being given it may be the composer bringing the suit who\'s playing dirty pool. Looks to me like he agreed to ghostwrite, and on the back end he\'s successfully duped the copyright office into giving him the copyrights on what was understood to be a work-for-hire by his employer.

    Universal should, in theory, have nothing to do with it.

    Perhaps there was some misinformation given to him up front that we\'re not privvy to. But if this was a standard work-for-hire ghostwriting gig, this composer has absolutely zero rights to the royalty income. He sold it away when he agreed to work for hire, without credit.

    That\'s what ghostwriting is...hence the syllable \"ghost.\"

    People ghost all the time, and it is well understood that the person you\'re ghosting for gets the credit. There are other collaborative deals where credit is shared, but they\'re not called ghostwriting. And in most cases, ghostwriting can lead to better gigs. For instance, look at all the Media Ventures \"grads\" who now have gigs of their own. I have a friend in LA who started out ghosting for another composer, and ended up getting both TV and films of her own out of the connection, and a great conducting gig, too. And she still occasionally ghosts for the other composer. Many times, these things work out just great for everybody involved.

    I guess people just aren\'t familiar with the practice, but it is certainly not the newsflash, hold-the-presses, scandalous find that this writer makes it out to be. It\'s ho-hum stuff. I believe Danny Lux got his start ghosting for Mike Post. People do this all the time.

  4. #4

    Re: Ghost Writer Sues Universal (OT)

    Hi Bruce,

    I am quite familiar with this practice and understand that it goes on. I didn\'t think it was all that scandalous that ghostwriting goes on (unless I misunderstood your post).

    I was thinking along the same lines as you - that the ghostwriter here is playing \"dirty pool\". What surprised me mostly was that the ghostwriter would have sued under these types of conditions - essentially screwing himself long-term IMHO. His reputation will now precede himself if this is exactly what happened.

    The other thing that surprised me a bit was that it wasn\'t spelled out completely that he would not own the copyright to the music in the \"work-for-hire\" contract (if that is what it was). I\'ve never been involved in a ghost-writing situation, but I would figure that the person hiring would try to protect themselves from this kind of thing from ever happening by having a clause explicitly stating who owns the rights.

    FV

  5. #5

    Re: Ghost Writer Sues Universal (OT)

    I\'ve seen provisions where screen credit goes to the \"principal\" and the secondary composer retains cue sheet credit. It all goes back to the deal. Brian Corber is not one of the cuddliest online personas I\'ve ever come across, but I doubt he\'d take any time to pursue this without a legitimate complaint.

    If the principal failed to specify in the work-for-hire agreement, then shame on them. We\'ll find out soon enough who did what to whom. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  6. #6

    Re: Ghost Writer Sues Universal (OT)

    Do film composers have a decent union? The writer\'s guild strictly prohibits ghost writing. Period. And if a writer has a beef about credit, he can request aribitration, where a panel decides who gets what credit on the film.

    Perhaps film composers should have something similar?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Ghost Writer Sues Universal (OT)

    Hi FV,

    Sorry...I didn\'t mean to imply that **you** had gotten in a snit, but that original article you linked to!!

    Bruce

  8. #8

    Re: Ghost Writer Sues Universal (OT)

    Do film composers have a decent union? The writer\'s guild strictly prohibits ghost writing. Period. And if a writer has a beef about credit, he can request aribitration, where a panel decides who gets what credit on the film.

    Perhaps film composers should have something similar?
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">The Department of Labor back in the 70\'s ruled that film composers were NOT allowed to unionize. Despite the fact that their request was modeled after the writers guild.....whcih is a union. Go figure. So....film composers are not allowed to unionize....but as a result.....they are still allowed to own their music and get a better payoff on the back end than if they were in a union (where the payoff would be on the front end.....and the studios would get all the back end royalties).

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Ghost Writer Sues Universal (OT)

    Probably a darn good thing, anyway!!

    Hey Brian, did you ever meet my good pal Tim Kobza at USC?

  10. #10

    Re: Ghost Writer Sues Universal (OT)

    Well screenwriters get the front end, but they also get royalties. There\'s no back end, true, but back end money is usually phantom money anyway. Sounds great on paper, but never seems to materialize.

    Studio bookkeeping is a fine art.

    While I have problems with the writer\'s guild, I do know that a lot of the abuses that film composers are suffering were once suffered by writers as well. We\'re still treated like the bastard son of the industry (even though, or perhaps BECAUSE we\'re one of the only two elements in the mix that actually creates something rather than interprets -- film composers being the other), but we don\'t suffer the abuses of the past.

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