Copyright. “War” &“Natty Dread”
For years, I have spoke, warned, cajoled and lectured about the importance of protecting your valuable intellectual property and making sure you do it right from the start. There are far too many examples of people losing the rights to their creative works simply because they were misled or trusted the wrong people and failed to get proper legal advice and representation.
A recent case in point involves a copyright battle over two songs recorded by the late reggae legend, Bob Marley. The two songs in question are “War” and “Natty Dread.”
Allan Cole, the famous Jamaican soccer legend and supposed musical collaborator with the late Bob Marley claims that he co-wrote the two songs with Marley but was never given copyright by the music companies involved in the recordings.
Cole claims he was unaware that he held no copyright on the songs until recently when he attempted to transfer half his interest in “War” to the family of former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, who once delivered a famous speech, which was the basis of the lyrics for “War.” Evidently, it took Cole 42 years to realize he held no copyrights on the songs.
The lawsuit names Island, Universal and Tuff Gong music as the defendants. Cole contends that he was promised copyright credit, but only received credit for co-writing the songs. Cole’s attorney is asking the court to enter a declaratory judgment that the companies infringed on his copyrights by “fraudulently substituting others as the authors.” Cole is also seeking payment from all income received from the works.
Your Creations. IP.
Whatever the ultimate outcome of this case, it should serve as a warning, once again, to current and aspiring artists, as well as to business owners and entrepreneurs. Your creations—intellectual property— requires attention, investment and vigilance. Don’t trust verbal commitments, get everything in writing and have an experienced attorney help you every step of the way.