The first thing to be aware of is that, in the United States and most European territories, it is illegal to use someone else's original beat without getting prior permission from the original creator beforehand - this is referred to as copyright infringement. Why is it illegal? Anytime you use someone else's original work, the original creator has the right to be compensated for the use of their work, whether via a license fee, or just getting properly credited on the so they then can collect their fair share of royalties.
If someone has released music that uses your beat without your permission or without giving you proper credit, there are few things you can do about it.
The first thing you should do is add that work into your Songtrust account (and attach the ISRC/recording as well) so we can begin registering your share and asserting your claim on that work globally. The reason you should do this is, once you work has been registered at a PRO, they will then reach out to us (your acting publisher) to let us know if our registration is in conflict with another registration they have on file for that work.
When someone uses your beat without your permission, the most common type of conflict that will arise is a Claiming Authorship for a Work Dispute. In a 'claiming authorship dispute', there is a disagreement over the authorship (or original writers) of the musical work.
In order to resolve (and win) this dispute in your favor, you will have to prove that you are not only the original creator of said work, but also that your work was sufficiently original to warrant the validity of the copyright. Keeping track of the original files with timestamps, etc is a great way to show when that work was first created. You can also register it with the Copyright Office if you want to be extra safe. We always recommend getting split sheets signed with any writers whom you sell beats to or work with to create a song, so its clear ahead of time how much ownership you are entitled to before the work is released to the public. Signed & dated split sheets are the easiest way to resolve this kind of dispute, as once we provide the split sheet to the PRO the dispute most often will be resolved in our favor since we were able to provide documentation that all parties were aware of the agreement prior to registering the work with a PRO. If you don't have a split sheet. If you don't have this, you will need to provide other evidence to support your claim.
Next, you will have to show that the alleged infringer copied / used your work.
At Songtrust, we can handle these types of disputes up to a certain point - if after providing all the documentation we get from you to the PRO, they still inform us that this is not enough to win the dispute, then at this point it will be time for you to consider hiring an attorney to take legal action.
Please also note that we only handle disputes on behalf of the publishing - so while we can do our best to assert your claim and make sure you are fairly credited for the work, we cannot help you get that said work removed from streaming platforms or taken down for services. Again, we recommend hiring an attorney if you want to pursue any sort of legal action against the infringer.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters.