I posted to my social media about these two articles last Friday, and now I’m expanding on them for 2023.
Cockygate was about an author who believed that her work should be trademarked. Which is fine, and quite legal. But what she trademarked was the problem. Before her trademark was even legal, she was demanding that other authors to take down their books by emailing them and harassing them until they did.
Thankfully, other authors revolted, took her to court, and she was shut down.
Now what does Taylor Swift have to do with authors, you might ask?
She is one, albeit song lyrics. She’s also a music composer, instrument player, director, producer, and the list goes on.
Now, what does one have to do with the other?
As I mentioned in my very first sentence, it’s all about owning your work, your masters, your IP.
While Cockygate was about an author trademarking the most innocuous of words to control her IP, and Taylor was about gaining control of her master recordings, both cases are still about retaining the receipts of your work.
What we, as authors, artists, painters, photographers, designers, makers, creators, etc., have in common, is our work is our work unless we are under contract to make for others, or, we sell our IP.
If you work for a company, making and creating designs, products, and the like, no doubt your contract states that all ideas you come up while working in and for the company are owned by the company.
It was the same for Taylor, in the sense that, her contract stated her masters were owned by the music publishing house. Which is why, when Big Machine wanted to sell her recordings, she had no right over them, and tried to regain control back. Unfortunately, Scooter Braun bought them when talks broke down, and we all know how the story went. He has apparently sold them now, and Taylor is still re-recording her old songs, plus others from the vault, so she can rightfully own her own masters.
There was a big hoo-ha over this, with many people, including women Taylor’s age, calling her names, and being quite degrading about why she was doing it. How dare she do it, etc., which disgusted me, and many others, no end. Clearly, they did not understand that the artist should have control over their own work, or that the complexities of ownership and the law are very complicated indeed.
On the flip-side, many artists have been selling off their back catalogues, more so in recent years. This means they no longer have control over those songs, or what the new owners do with them.
Rolling Stone has a decent article on the reasons why, usually money, tax evasion, or estate planning. See it here.
A Journal of Musical Things has a very long list of those who have done it. See it here.
Personally, I’m not sure I’d want to sell myself out like that. Having no control over what I made and created annoys the fuck out of me, and this is why the likes of Paul McCartney has been in legal disputes with the owners of the Beatles catalogue. I link to that in my original article.
When it came to Cockygate, author, Faleena Hopkins, believed that by trademarking the word “cocky” which was in her series title, that it meant every other author who used the word in their title had to delete their books from Amazon. When they didn’t, she set about destroying them by demanding that Amazon remove their books. Sadly, Amazon did, and a very loud social media fight ensued.
In my in-depth cockygate post, I link to many articles about it. As an author/writer, I highly suggest you read them and learn about it as it wasn’t the first and possibly won’t be the last time it happens.
You need to know about your legal rights as a creator. Who owns copyright? You do. Unless you sell it, or it’s owned by the company you are contracted to write for. Both of those are your choice as owner and maker of those creations.
Whichever country you are in, please, look into your rights for copyrights, trademarks and IP (Intellectual Property) and do what you can to keep your work safe. Ownership is yours from the base core of creation, and there are many things you can do to strengthen this. There are also many things that the law makers need to add to in updating laws, but it all starts with YOU.
PROTECT YOURSELF! PROTECT YOUR IP! PROTECT YOUR CREATIONS!