Video: Who You Gonna Call? Artists’ Rights And Law Enforcement Panel UGA Artists Rights Symposium Jan 23

Who you Gonna Call? Law Enforcement and Artists’ Rights


Amanda Williams, Songwriter, Songwriter Advocate
Detective Superintendent Peter Ratcliffe, Police IP Crime Unit City of London Police
Carlos Linares, VP Anti-Piracy Legal Affairs RIAA
Ellen Seidler, Filmmaker, Writer, Producer, Digital Citizens Alliance
Kevin Phelan,  Senior Supervisory Agent, FBI Palo Alto CA

1:15- 2:15 PM

Chris Castle of MusicTech Policy once remarked, “If someone is stealing your musical gear, it’s clear you call the police. If someone is stealing your musical catalogue, who do you call?” Most of the time the answer is “call a lawyer and file a federal copyright infringement lawsuit.” However, this presents several problems. An artist would have to track down the culprit, not an easy task when operators of website may be located in foreign countries or ownership masked by shell registrations. Second, a plaintiff must have hundreds of thousands of dollars to proceed in federal court. This is not a practical solution for most independent songwriters and musicians.

There are however other actions that artists may initiate. The federal government has several units that deal with criminal intellectual property theft that can often help. In addition, it’s entirely possible that these websites may be committing other crimes such as fraud, tax evasion and/or money laundering. Other federal units may be activated to investigate these suspicions. Similarly, these crimes may also violate state laws. Many states also have their own copyright laws, rights of publicity, false advertising and consumer protection statutes that may come into play. Some of the most surprising and effective anti-piracy law enforcement operations in recent years have come from the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit. Is it possible an artist in the US could one day call the local police?