Intellectual Property and Copyright

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Joe who has no idea what he wants to do except more drugs and more girls and is easily persuaded to join his brother’s new band Larger. Joe is too lazy to do anything more than what his brother tells him. Sam decided the bassist and drummer will be his two old mates – who may not be the best musicians in the world but they have little else going on and are if nothing else are loyal. So Sam gets Jeff Williams his old school friend on bass and Gary Cobbler on drums. As far as Sam is concerned they will do for now.
They start rehearsing at a basement studio in King’s Cross called The Basement where Sam often works as a studio hand and roadie to bands on tour. The Basement let Sam use the studio to make a 5 track demo on the basis that if any money comes in they will get paid, although Steve the Basement’s owner also mentions overrides if they get famous -Sam tells him to get lost but they have a drink on it any way. Sam gets Larger on the list to play the unsigned bands night at the music industry conference ‘ In The City’ in Manchester in September 1996. They play a shambolic set but Joe makes an impression on several of the A n R men and also several management companies and booking agents show real interest. Sam does all the meetings and never invites the other band members to come along unless the A n R people want to meet them. Sam also meets several management people. Finally Sam picks a manager and tells the others – the management company is called Strong Management and is fronted by eighties managing legend John Coldheart. Joe thinks he is a ‘tosser’ but offers no further comment.
Coldheart gets the band a deal with a major label and gets the band to use his lawyer Alex Shark who is a partner at the firm Sharks and Co. Alex Shark tells the band the deal is great and says he will explain it all to them at the signing party at the record company Hit Records Inc. The band members get completely plastered at the party and Alex finds it hard to keep them silent long enough to read the deal – they all sign the paper work they are given. Larger’s first album ‘The Abusers Manifesto’ goes straight in at number one and sells 5 million copies worldwide. Sam sacks Jeff Williams and Gary Cobbler. Jeff complains and Sam sends him a cheque for 10,000 with a letter saying it is a ‘pay off’ – Sam cc the letter to Alex Shark and John Coldheart. Sam has all the writing credits and receives all the publishing money and does a million pound publishing deal with a major publisher. Joe marries a super model and his face is everywhere. Coldheart management become Larger management in partnership with Sam.
It turns out that there is a clause in the original record company contract saying that Sam and Joe own the name Larger. The contract also names Sam and Joe as key members, with several key members’ rights.
1) What action can Jeff Williams and Gary Cobbler bring against Sam
2) What action can they bring against Alex Shark and his company
3) What action can they bring against John Coldheart
4) Can you suggest other ways in which this band could have moved forward and how some of these problems could have been avoided
In order to come up with the answer to the issues involved in the question, let us first take a study on the customary practices in music business at the United Kingdom, and the relevant law to copyright.
The Music Contract
Forming a band