Can someone else use your original composition without your permission? This is a question getting global attention after the music group Heavy Young Heathens accused skating pair Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier of using their song during the Olympics without first getting approval from the artists.
The question extends far beyond this one example. Hearing your original work in a video game, on a commercial or other performance is frustrating. But what are your options? A brief analysis of this specific case provides some answers.
What led to allegations of an intellectual property protection violation at the Olympics?
The musicians claim the figure skating duo used their song during their short program, part of the event that got the couple a silver medal. The Heavy Young Heathens argue the pair should have requested a license to use their song and that the unlawful use insults their professional reputation and causes monetary harm.
What types of legal recourse are available in these situations?
It depends on the IP protections the musicians use to protect their song. In this case, the artists allege copyright infringement. In order to move forward with a lawsuit, anyone that claims copyright infringement must generally have that copyrighted item registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
If successful, a claim can result in two main forms of remedy: injunction and monetary awards. The injunction is essentially a court order that forces the user to stop using the material at issue and monetary awards can be granted to make up for any potential lost revenue resulting from the infringement.