Legal question regarding songwriting collaboration

I’ll try to keep this simple…

I’m a composer. I wrote a musical with a person we’ll call “D-bag”. I wrote all the music; he wrote all the lyrics, 50/50. We never drew up a legal agreement in writing (I know, I know…).

D-bag started working on a new project and lost interest in ours. I contacted him and asked if I could take over the project and keep working on it, tweaking things, etc. He agreed (over the phone). After that, the work was approximately 70% mine, 30% D-bag’s.

I felt the work was ready for public presentation, so I contacted D-bag one more time to give him the good news. He, under the mistaken impression that his new project is good, no longer wants his name attached to our project because he feels it is “sub-par”. He claims he has spoken to a lawyer and has the right to pull his lyrics out from the show completely.

Now, I have no interest in speaking with D-bag again for as long as I live, but considering I spent two years working on this project, I would like to know if he’s right about being able to do that. Thoughts?

Since this is a very specific question about a real-life case, I suggest paying for a lawyer yourself rather than listening to opinions on a Message Board.


samclem, Moderator, General Questions