• FreeAdvice has a new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, effective May 25, 2018.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our Terms of Service and use of cookies.

Music distributor selling my tracks WITHOUT my authorization

Accident - Bankruptcy - Criminal Law / DUI - Business - Consumer - Employment - Family - Immigration - Real Estate - Tax - Traffic - Wills   Please click a topic or scroll down for more.

What is the name of your state? New York

I run a record label and produce my tracks (and others) on the label. I requested one of my new employees to arrange distribution of a single I was the performer on, which was produced on my label.

This employee created a distribution company with another person, licensed 10 tracks on my label, and distributed these 10 tracks (including the 1 single I had requested). He did not tell me he had done any of this. (This employee helped produce these tracks with me but he is an employee of my record label. I am the only owner of the label.)

I then see the 10 tracks for sale on iTunes, etc. licensed to this new company, which is how I found out what had happened. I have never been sent any financial information or money for the sale of my tracks. Also, they have claimed copyright on these tracks on my YouTube channel and are collecting all the ad revenue from the high viewing videos on my channel!

I have requested they stop the distribution of my music without my authorization but they either make excuses or ignore me.

It seems crazy that it's my label and my music and they are doing this. But my employee had access to the record label computers and the original tracks to set this up. (Firing this employee is a separate issue.)

I have written to the distribution company but not sure how to prove I produced and own the music. (I now have copyright pending for 2 of the tracks but that takes months to come through.)

Of course, I don't have money for an attorney right now. Any advice is welcome.



Senior Member
Do you hold all copyrights in these works? Were these works created solely by you?

What do you have to prove ownership (if not yet copyright certificate, do you have proof of creation date)?

Don't you control your own YouTube channel? If so, the works should be easy to remove from the channel.

If you can show you are the real copyright holder, you can file DMCA takedown notices to have your music removed (at least temporarily) from wherever it appears online without your authorization.

If you file DMCA takedown notices, the employee can always file a counternotice in response, challenging the takedown (which if he is claiming ownership in the works, might be likely).

If the employee files a counternotice, you will then have to sue for copyright infringement.

To sue for copyright infringement, the music needs to be federally registered to you. You will need proof of registration or proof of preregistration (proof of payment of application fee and proof of deposit of copyrighted work with Copyright Office and Copyright Office receipt).
Last edited:
At least find out how much an attorney would charge to send the violator a cease-and-desist letter that at least would put the violator on notice.


Senior Member
An attorney-drafted cease and desist letter could be smart, especially in combination with the takedown notices.

The challenges I see could be in proving copyright ownership and in overcoming the fact that the employee was following the direction of recordlabelowner when he arranged for distribution.

The employee appears to have exceeded permission to distribute and apparently has failed to pay recordlabelowner any share of revenue generated from the works.

That potentially could be a problem remedied through contract/royalty negotiation.

It's a bit of a mess that probably could have been avoided with copyright registration of all works and better business management at the start.
Sponsored Ad