Who gets the credit when a musical overture is written?

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Who gets the credit when a musical overture is written?

I was hired recently in Vermont to arrange a musical that was written 20 years ago. The composer provided lyrics and basic chord structures. I have been given permission to make whatever changes I feel appropriate to make the musical work better as a whole. I have written an overture about 100 measures that uses snippets from 3 or 4 pieces in the musical. Maybe 20 measures has material directly related to the original pieces and the rest is my derivations, interlude, etc, that I wrote. May I take credit for composing the overture, or do I still list myself as arranger. Thank you for your help.

Asked on March 3, 2019 under Business Law, Vermont

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There are three different issues here:
1) Who owns the intellectual property (e.g. copyright) to the work? Since you were hired to create it, the rights belong to the person who hired you.
2) Who decides who is listed as what on the "official" publication of the work (e.g. on theatre playbills)? That would be the person who owns the rights, though if there is any agreement stating what credit you get, that is enforceable (if there is no agreement to this effect, the rights owner can decide).
3) Can you tell people that you composed the work or call yourself its composer in your CV or resume? Yes, unless you have an agreement stating the official credit you may take. Otherwise, you can decide how to describe the work you did on anything but the official materials for this play or belonging to the rights owner.


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