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How My Music Was Plagiarized for Profit and How I Fought Back

Late August 2013, my music was been stolen, rebranded, and sold across every major music store and streaming service online.  Over 150 instances were found on sites like iTunes and Spotify, and countless more appeared on illegal networks. I felt trapped, suffocated by the enormity of things. Still, with a lot of effort, I managed to take back most of what was mine, and thanks to the kindness of others, even come out ahead.

If you’re a creator, I pray you never find yourself here, but if you do, here’s my story and how you can fight back.

The Music Stolen

I’ve spent a lot of time deliberating over music.  I lost a decade to tinkering because I lacked confidence.

Over the years, I’ve started hundreds of projects and canned just as many. There’s always been a disconnect between what I imagined and what I made. Nothing made the cut.

Come 2012, I had enough. I was determined to make my start in music, but I knew I had a skill deficit to overcome.

To close the gap, I began fiftytwocreatives, a project where I would start and finish a unique creative concept every week – often musical in nature – and release it publicly each Sunday.

The project proved fruitful. After much studying and grinding, I learned the skills I needed to actualize my ideas. Once slow and uncertain, I became fluid and sure. One concept in particular, “Into Ether”, was very dear to me.  A floaty, piano-driven piece with a dubstep-inspired crescendo, spurred on an collection of songs which ultimately became my inaugural release, “Into Ether EP”.

It was simple, and it was flawed, but it was something I could be proud of.

And then it was taken from me.

The Notice

On August 24th, after spending two months in Asia, I was greeted with several copyright notices from YouTube.

“Curious,” I whispered to myself.

I checked the warnings. Marked by Kontor New Media, I was told my uploads infringed on tracks by someone named “Joseph Ti”.

“Probably a false flag,” I thought.

A nervous search for Joseph Ti brought me to Beatport.  Familiar-sounding titles filled the charts.

I gritted my teeth, “Into The Deep? No …”

With a deep breath, I reached for the play button.  Those familiar chords played out. It was Into Ether.

My eyes widened. My stomach churned. The world span beneath me.

This wasn’t someone borrowing a melody or a progression.  This was my music verbatim, stripped from somewhere, renamed, and sold.

“Uncharted” became “Tomorrow”.
“Aeolus” became “Voice of the Wind”.
“Into Ether” became “Into the Deep”.
“Halcyon” became “Impassive”.

“Aeolus” already means wind.  “Into the Deep” – really?  And Joseph Ti?  They didn’t even try to cover this.

I was livid.  Seething.  Even now, I feel my lunch moving up my throat.

I went on a hunt for Joseph Ti, but to no avail. He had my music everywhere, but he was only a name.  He wasn’t real, a ghost alias used to rip me off.

I had to fight back, but I had no target. I searched for him, starting from the bottom: the stores.

Fighting Back: The Approach and Preparation

Before I dive in, know that kindness is king. While you need be firm with what you want, understand that the stores, labels, distributors, and any others in between are not at fault.  It’s in their best interest to avoid litigation and they will likely help where they can.

Documentation will save you time and heartache.  Should this ever befall you, you have to prove your claim. If you’re not keeping records and securing your work in permanent, public, time-stamped mediums, please start now.

My proof lay with YouTube. Thankfully, I used each song in a series of pre-release videos. Each upload had an unmoveable date of publication preceding all plagiarized instances by several months. Whether or not these would hold in court, I cannot say, but they helped establish that I was the rightful owner with the intermediaries.

Come infringement, scour Google and log every instance of plagiarism you find.  Search for the artist and song title in quotation marks (e.g. “Joseph Ti” “Into The Deep”) for exact results. Collect as much information as you can about the infringement (including, but not exclusive to) song titles, artist names, album titles, and associated labels; companies will also require the URLs of the infringing content for takedowns to happen.

Before you contact anyone, take screenshots of all offending content as these listings will change once takedowns are processed. Screen Capture for Google Chrome and FireShot for Firefox are both simple, free tools that will get the job done.

Fighting Back: YouTube

YouTube was my biggest worry as its support processes are automated. Disputes are siloed down specific paths, whether or not they fit that course.  I feared my case would get stuck in limbo without resolution.

I filed my counter notification (which is delivered to the claiming party), but to be doubly sure, I approached Kontor New Media myself.

Three emails were answered with silence. Moving to a public forum, a Facebook post was met quickly with assurances that all would be solved, but it wasn’t until my fourth letter that my notice was acknowledged and resolved.  Thankfully, one of their junior staff reached out and helped me remove the material from YouTube’s Content ID system, albeit a painful 19 days after my first notice.

If you end up in dispute with Kontor or another large distributor, be persistent and try them on them on public channels.  Sometimes, when inboxes get full, social media is the better way to get attention.

Fighting Back: The Stores and Streamers

It often gets a bad rap, but the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (better known as the DMCA) is amazing.  Although it’s a US standard, this template was accepted internationally.  For most sites, the offending material was removed within days of sending the notice.  For others, I’m still waiting, but having the tool sped things along greatly.

Once you’ve filled in the template, you’ll need to find the right department.  For American sites, there’s a comprehensive list of copyright departments.  iTunes has its own proprietary form.  For international sites, you’ll often find them at [email protected][domain].com or [email protected][domain].com.  If not there, general channels can often pass you along to the right person.

When sending takedown requests, ask who distributed the music and about any royalties accrued.  Stores and streaming services seldom deal directly with artists, but instead use intermediaries called distributors to streamline the process.  Stores and streamers can help you determine financial damages, but it’ll be the distributors who can help you find your thief.

* You guys should know that iTunes and Deezer are awesome.  I can’t name specifics about iTunes, but Deezer’s Justin Erdman made a point to make sure everything was taken care of while he was on vacation.  So grateful for them!

Fighting Back: The Distributors

As with the stores, each distributor was sent a DMCA notice, tailored to the releases they handled.  Each was kind and quick to act, sending another wave of takedowns from their side.  The number of plagiarized instances finally began to dwindle.

While each distributor was helpful, Proton SoundSystem, or more specifically, its CEO, Jason Wohlstadter, went above and beyond.  Jason took the time to walk me through the situation, introduce me to the offending parties, and set up an account to assign me any misaligned royalties.  Even now, he continues to help me with takedowns.

Your mileage may vary, but if you can find a Jason to back you up, your work will be much easier.  Be sure to ask questions at this junction; the distributors are likely what separates you from the offending parties and will know them and the situation best. Should you pursue litigation, you should find out as much as you can.

Fighting Back: The Pirates

With stores and distributors closing the gap on both ends, I was eager to end this debacle, but then came the pirate sites.

Unlike the legitimate services, few (if any) piracy sites acknowledge takedown notices.  Even if they had, there were too many to deal with. Thankfully, there are automated processes.

Topple Track – a system that does the heavy lifting for crushing pirated material – managed all of the underground links distributing the infringements.  At the time of writing, they have removed 131 pirated copies.  Instances of Joseph Ti still appear in search, but the numbers have decreased appreciably.

Thankfully, all wasn’t dark on the file sharing front; I managed to find a handful of new fans on YouTube.

During my search, I found a small group who uploaded videos under Joseph Ti.  I gently explained my situation to them and everyone responded with love.  Most removed their videos, but a few opted to rename their clips instead, pointing to my channels and sending folks my way. Very cool of them.

The Aftermath

The hard truth is that Joseph Ti is still out there – and likely will be forever.  Spotify (removed!), Shazam (in process), 7 Digital (removed!), and Musicload (removed!) still list plagiarized content.  Last.fm continues to track scrobbles. Pirates perpetuate the spread of mislabeled material.

Folks have suggested that I could have registered my copyright to avoid this situation. In Canada, copyright is automatic as soon as someone hits save. Sadly, that registration didn’t offer anything for prevention, but it could have helped in litigation, should I have chosen to pursue it.

While it’s frustrating that so much is left, my fight is over. Most instances on legitimate sites have been shuttered. My music, now properly named, has taken Joseph Ti’s place in stores, streamers, and YouTube’s systems.

While it’s not the happiest ending, at least there’s a semblance of closure. Thank you again to all of the brilliant, kind-hearted people who helped me through this. I’m so lucky to have you guys!

The Post-Reddit Update (2013/11/22)

I’ve never seen my server seize up the way it did last night. You guys hit it hard! Thank you all for your kindness and support! I spent many hours optimizing things, so we should have smooth(er) sailing from here.

There’ve been a lot of great comments coming out of social channels, and there are a few recurring themes I want to tackle:

That’s horrible and this is why I don’t post my work! Someone will steal it!

It’s scary, but even after being on the receiving end, I can still say with full confidence that you should still share your work.  I’m a photographer, too; misappropriation happens a lot.

The truth is that we’re going to get hurt, if not by theft, than by rejection or any number of other things. You know what though? We have missions to fulfill. They can rob us of our work, but if we never put things out there, then they’ve robbed us of our purpose, and that’s so much worse. We need to move forward.

It’s just one blip. I moved beyond it and so can you!

I bet you’re not the only one this has happened to.

No, I’m not. Some folks have reached out sharing similar stories; most never got closure.  Then there are all of the compilations Joseph Ti appeared on:

  • Astrolabe Chill 02
  • Bora Bora Chill
  • Bora Bora Beach Chill
  • Chillout Session 04
  • Chillout Session 05
  • Chillout Shock 11
  • Everest Relax 02
  • Moonlight Chill
  • Moonlight Chill 03
  • Moonlight Chill 04
  • Moonlight Chill Vol 02
  • Slow Time 05
  • The Best of Chillstep 2013
  • Top 20 Chillstep
  • Top 30 Fresh Chillout
  • TOP25 Chill Emotion
  • Tracks For Your Listening Pleasure 015
  • Tracks For Your Listening Pleasure 016

… published by these labels:

  • Astrolabe Recordings
  • Aventuel
  • Cartoon Fresh
  • Easy Summer
  • Litova Records
  • Magnetic United
  • Slowmore
  • Somnambulist Records
  • Sunboom

“Tracks For Your Listening Pleasure 015” – really? That just screams cash grab. I can’t say if it’s all fraudulent material, but I can verify I’m not the only one in there under someone else’s name.

How much money did Joseph Ti make off your music?

I’m afraid I only have a partial picture of that.  Some storefronts provided royalty statements, but not all.  Same for the distributors.  It wasn’t $5 as some might have guessed, but it’s also not a figure I’m losing sleep over.  The real loss here comes from brand damage.  Even if I never recover a single penny, I’m okay – but I’m going to shut down as much of this as I can!

You should have registered your copyright before posting it online!

In Canada, creative works are automatically registered for copyright as soon as one affixes their creation to a physical or digital medium.  Registering helps in proving ownership, but it doesn’t protect me from brazen cash grabs like this.  It’s more reactionary than defensive.  That said, if I was to litigate, that registration would help!

What I should have done from the start – and did as soon as I could – was distribute my material to the larger stores (although the album was always on Bandcamp), streaming services, and Content ID. I think visibility and reach would have been the best defense.

Did you ever find Joseph Ti?  What are you going to do with him?

I did! – or at least, the person collecting the royalties.  I was told revenues for “Joseph Ti” were assigned to this individual instead of a label manager, which is a very unusual practice.  Still, I don’t know for certain, and I’m reluctant to name parties without unshakable evidence.  I don’t want to ruin someone just because I’m 99.5% sure he screwed me over.

As far as lawsuits go, I won’t be pursuing litigation.  This comment summarizes my thoughts well.

You should keep your project files as proof of ownership.

Very true!  I actually made a point to the stores, streamers, and distributors that I was the sole holder of the project files in each takedown request.  These files were also in email backups long before the material went live. I didn’t have to use them, but had this case gone further, they could have helped proving ownership.

We want to hear your music on our favourite sites!  Maybe even for free?

And I’d gladly oblige!  Here’s a list of major sites you can find my work on, most of which offer full, unlimited streams:

The Post-Media Update (2014/01/17)

The ball keeps rolling! Since this post went up, I’ve had a chance to talk on television via Steele on Your Side with Lynda Steele on CTV News British Columbia and on radio via The Shift with Mike Mike Eckford on CKNW. A giant thank you to Marc Smith for making the connections!

For the readers who prefer French, The Pink Beaver from France was kind enough to translate an interview as well.

It Happened Again (2016/02/11)

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it happened again. Same songs stolen. Same aliases used. Same party sending it out to distributors. Thankfully iTunes and Spotify are on their game and resolution’s come swiftly, but the gall of this person. I need to find a way to send a strong message, but I need to do it tactfully and kindly. It’s hard.

Comments: 86

  • thisissami

    Reply November 21, 20135:25 pm

    Wow! What an ordeal… I’m glad you have a positive attitude about this and seem to have recovered as well as you can. Good on you for writing this!!

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20137:23 pm

      Thanks as always, Sami!

  • Lynne Everest

    Reply November 21, 20136:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. You’re very talented…keep at it! You really rock and the other guy sucks and his criminal actions are his only reward.

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20137:24 pm

      My pleasure, Lynne! I really appreciate that!

  • Benjamin

    Reply November 22, 201312:45 am

    Hey man I saw your post on Reddit. I don’t know if you saw, but according to spotify your song Into the Ether is on 4 albums including “Chillout Session vol 4” “Bora Bora Beach Chill” “The Best of Chillstep 2013” and “Top 30 Fresh Chillout” all under the name Joseph Ti. I would look to contact whoever does these and either get the artist name changed to yours, get some royalties or sue them. Idk. I think your music is great, best wishes.

    • Streetfools

      Reply November 22, 20136:43 am

      I’m really digging this “Into the Ether” Song. Now I want to go on spotify and listen, but don’t want to boost this other person’s plays. What do I do!? haha

      • Patrick Richardson

        Reply November 22, 20136:57 am

        Fight the good fight and avoid spotify for this specific reason. Go to youtube, purchase the track ,or use any other morally positive avenue. A hard-working independent artist deserves his due, specially when their work touches other people.

        • Jeremy Lim

          Reply November 23, 201310:09 pm

          You’re a champ, sir. I have a lot of respect and gratitude for that.

      • Jeremy Lim

        Reply November 22, 201312:40 pm

        I appreciate that, but I’m on Spotify too!

        https://play.spotify.com/artist/4kaKtscY9uw3TitaJYWOyd

        • Streetfools

          Reply November 22, 201312:42 pm

          Sweet, Thanks.

        • George M. Tau

          Reply April 21, 20145:30 am

          Hi Jeremy and all. Thanks for your story man, teas a good fight you git there, blessed are you days you already have fought and won. And if you think you are a jerk I’ll say Hell No! You are not. I am a jerk! A jerk is me George Tau of South Africa! Why..? Here it goes.. From 1992 to 2006 i wrote over 150 lyrics recording all their melodies on tape.
          What happened is that some syndicate found out my treasure and and found ways to lay their hands on them. These were allegedly sold in USA and Europe. Later to Asia and South America. All my efforts to use Internet were frustrated as i used internet cares controlled (bribery) by them. At this moment i have a website made off Publisher but struggle to publish it. All these years they kept me suppressed using bribery. I tried the police, copyright organisations but failed.The media too is gagged.
          How can you guys out there help me?… I live in poverty but have +100 R&B/POP songs. I send you copy of my site hope it reaches you. Thanks once more for your story.

    • Bizzle Dizzle

      Reply November 22, 20137:25 am

      It’s the same on Google Play with “Into the Deep” from “Bora Bora Beach Chill” and “Tomorrow” on “The Best of Chillstep 2013”. Those are the only two on Google Play under the name Joseph Ti.

  • Hoffmann

    Reply November 22, 20131:15 am

    You might do well for getting rid of the remaining fake copies if you don’t name him and his songs directly, this article is turning up everywhere.

    • Benjamin Eugene NElson

      Reply November 22, 201311:01 am

      I dont know if that’s true. I will avoid the name and let people know the guy is a thief.

      Besides, if he doesn’t who’s to say people won’t think he stole the music from the thief?

  • Matthew Wilson

    Reply November 22, 20133:23 am

    Your music is beautiful, the kind of wonderful ambience that I love to read to, and it upsets me to think that someone with such a prolific output can have their work so bluntly stolen by someone else for such cavalier aims. I’m just a poor student but when I have cash, I’m buying from you. Good job fighting to get your work back. Good luck for future endeavours.

  • Joost

    Reply November 22, 20133:52 am

    First of all great chillout music m8! Second I hope the amount of revenue you stand to make by going after your deserved royalties exceeds the cost of litigation because someone need to pay for such blatant piracy. I agree that pirated material with your name still on it is a whole other story than someone actually passing it of as their own. Bastards!
    Good luck fighting the good fight!

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 201310:07 pm

      Thanks so much, Joost! I’m afraid litigation is out of reach at the moment. He’s far away and I’ve spent way too much on this already. That said, the support that’s come of this? Really amazing. I’m very grateful for all of the support!

  • Florian Bösch

    Reply November 22, 20134:07 am

    There’s a two things missing from your entry, that could’ve saved you a lot of trouble.

    1) Register a content ID on youtube for your content, so nobody else gets to takedown your videos.

    2) Upload your content to the various pirate sharing sites/trackers yourself, fully with correct author and title, as to prevent or diminish the impact of others claiming authorship and vandalizing song titles.

    It might sound silly to be your own pirate, but, choose the lesser of two veewils, if claim of authorship bothers you more than piracy, clearly there’s a simple solution for that.

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20137:36 pm

      1) You’re absolutely right and I’ve updated the post to include that.

      2) A good idea, but I think uploading it to storefronts and streaming services accomplishes the same thing and gives artists a bit more of an edge in court. From an exposure standpoint, it’s definitely worked out well for a good chunk of artists.

  • skilial

    Reply November 22, 20135:19 am

    I had something similar happen to me, only the person(s) took the music which was instrumental and added vocals. I contacted the copyright infringement departments of Amazon, Youtube, and Rhapsody. I also received a plea from the offending “artist” to let it slide, explaining that she thinks there are great differences between my songs and hers. Eventually, I dropped one of the disputes and decided to step out of music production for fear that my new found hobby would end up with lawsuits that I can’t afford. My work is call “PC Load Letter”, “n00b”, and “Determined,” by skilial. It isn’t great, but its mine. I am sorry for your troubles and hope you get everything you deserve! Keep up the fight!

    • aliensporebomb

      Reply November 22, 201310:22 am

      I wouldn’t stop at all. The person who committed a wrong against you should have asked for permission to do a remix or something. It’s sad because your work as an artist was ground to a halt because of one inconsiderate person. If I were you I would continue and then make each piece of music somewhat indicative of your style: a digital sample of the phrase “skiial in the house” or the like so that if bucky mcgillicuddy tries to steal it as their own it’s already been “branded” so to speak. Even instrumental work can have identifying characteristics of your own.

      • skilial

        Reply November 22, 201311:29 am

        Thanks for the support. The work in question isn’t the only reason I have stopped. Quite honestly, I need the better software, equipment and time to be able to properly sit down and feel like I really made something worthy of what I know I can do. Once I get my raise, fix my wife’s car and provide my kids with a good Christmas, then and only then, can I begin to invest in my hobby. Again, thank you for the kind words and I wasn’t trying to insinuate that the other artist would sue me. I don’t think she would. She seemed nice, but I could’ve been snookered. Who knows?

        • Jeremy Lim

          Reply November 23, 20137:49 pm

          I’m not sure what you mean. What I hear is good!

          What are you working with right now? What’s the bottleneck?

          Check out this blog:
          http://bedroomproducersblog.com/

          There are a crazy amount of free resources on there. If you need something more specific, ping me at [email protected] and maybe I can suggest something.

          As for the other artist, you’re fully in the right. I’m sure she’d feel the same way if someone took her vocals, manipulated them, and used them in their work. It’s different, absolutely, but it’s still a part of her. If she’s monetizing it, you guys should have a discussion about royalty splits. If not, then unless it’s slanderous to your reputation, perhaps it’s a great promo piece – but make sure you get that trade and in writing. Set hard terms on what you expect out of the agreement. You deserve to a cut in her success. “It’s great promo!” is only great promo when it’s measurable.

          Best of luck! I look forward to hearing your music soon!

  • Emby

    Reply November 22, 20136:30 am

    I appreciated the way in which you dealt with pirates as people. Remember that although many pirates feel like music should be available freely, and have no qualms about infringement, they often feel *very* differently about plagiarism.

    And in this instinct, I think they are correct. Many of the issues surrounding copyright infringement are economic issues, rather than strictly moral ones. (After all, the purpose of copyright is NOT to remunerate artists, but to ensure a greater and more diverse supply of freely available art!)

    But claiming that you have made something, when you have merely copied it, goes against a deeper, more moral instinct. That is never OK.

    • Benjamin Eugene NElson

      Reply November 22, 201311:00 am

      Doubly so when you are making money from it.

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 201310:01 pm

      Pirates -are- people, not to mention, your fans. Who pirates something they don’t like? We all consume media in different ways. Not everyone’s going to agree on the methods, but in my situation, it’d have been really silly to take out my frustrations on someone who’s saying, “Guys – this sounds good! You should hear it!” Kindness worked wonderfully. They all turned out to be awesome people.

      That said, I should stress that pitching in for an artist does go a long way – even for the part-timers and hobbyist. A lot of the time, sales are validation that the work is good and worthy of pursuit. I know we have likes and favourites and ratings, but when you get a vote from someone’s wallet? You know it’s serious love.

      And then there’s the hunger thing. For a lot of musicians, this is literally all they do.

      I’ve been so lucky to have generous benefactors – particularly the Reddit community with this article – who have me so pumped up for my next projects. I still have to augment my income elsewhere, but I’m really grateful for the push!

  • [email protected]

    Reply November 22, 20136:37 am

    Wow so happy that everything turned out well for you!

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20139:48 pm

      Getting there! Thank you!

  • Suburban_dad

    Reply November 22, 20136:44 am

    Came here from Reddit to say your music is perfect chill..Get that shit in the SOMAFM rotation!

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20137:54 pm

      Thanks so much! I’ve never heard of SomaFM before, but I’ll give them a shout once I clear things up a bit more. Just found out Joseph Ti is showing up on Shazam. Really gross stuff.

  • galaxy_dove

    Reply November 22, 20137:59 am

    Wow what an ordeal! I feel the only appropriate thing to do now is to create an alias “Joseph Ti” and start flooding the internet with HORRIBLE music :D

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20137:57 pm

      Hah – that’s actually poetic, but let’s keep our eyes forward, yeah? No point giving that guy more of our time and energy.

      • galaxy_dove

        Reply November 24, 20136:30 am

        Yes, no point really to stoop to his level but it would be sweet revenge!

        I have been on the receiving end of plagiarism multiple times, but never by a complete stranger ; I can’t imagine how you must have felt!! Thanks so much for sharing your experience, I learned a lot from your article and feel like it will come in handy in the future.

        Great tunes b.t.w :D

        • Jeremy Lim

          Reply November 26, 201310:36 am

          Yeah – I definitely chuckled at the idea though.

          I imagine it must have been worse coming from friends. I’m so sorry! I hope you got it sorted out?

          And thank you!

          • galaxy_dove

            November 27, 20139:12 am

            Yeah it really sucked…found out during a tour when the vinyl of the new release showed up. Zero writing credit on the A-side, just a “programming” credit. Realized then the company i was keeping was not to be trusted, and that release was the last collaboration i would have with this “artist”.

          • Jeremy Lim

            November 27, 201312:11 pm

            So brutal. I seldom start any collaborations without a contract. It was a practice that preceded this whole plagiarism thing, but sometimes, this stuff can be done even without malice, you know? “Oh, we never discussed that so I didn’t know you wanted [X].” Slows things down at the start, but man, it really helps speed things along from there.

            Not sure if you’re interested, but I’ve been meaning to pick up this book, and I imagine there are some templates about this sort of thing in there:

            http://www.amazon.com/dp/1413310567

            Good for you for pushing on!

          • galaxy_dove

            November 28, 20136:10 am

            Cool thanks alot, I will check that book for sure.

            You are so correct : “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Sometimes when making art with friends the lines get blurred a bit. Trust can become an issue. I try to look at it as a learning experience, but it still stings whenever i hear that track :(

  • Brian Westley

    Reply November 22, 20139:08 am

    Good article; I would add that you should also try to document earlier versions of the same music, as that would help strengthen your claim that it originated with you.

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20137:58 pm

      You’re quite right. I’ve amended the post to include that. Thanks, Brian!

  • John Elke

    Reply November 22, 20139:32 am

    That’s a crazy story. I’m certain this is not an isolated case. Whoever this person was, it seems they have probably been doing this for a while to be so brash.

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20139:47 pm

      Sadly so. I’ve met another artist who’s had his work stolen by this same party. I’ve added a list of the compilations Joseph Ti was featured on and the labels he was under just in case anyone else got hit by this.

  • Ryan

    Reply November 22, 20139:53 am

    Consider me a fan! For what it’s worth I also saw this on Reddit, I love your music, and I am buying your full set immediately following this comment.

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 26, 201310:33 am

      That’s very kind of you, Ryan! I really appreciate that!

  • Tripp

    Reply November 22, 201310:00 am

    I’m glad to hear you got most of this cleared up! Also, your music is AWESOME, keep it comin’!

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20139:40 pm

      Thanks so much, Tripp!

  • Dan Baugher

    Reply November 22, 201310:06 am

    Sounds like someone is a Robert Miles fan

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 201310:12 pm

      Way back when! I’d love to have an iconic sound like those downward pianos one day.

      • Dan Baugher

        Reply November 24, 20138:24 pm

        I think you hit the right notes in Aeolus.

  • aliensporebomb

    Reply November 22, 201310:20 am

    There’s another side of this story we’re not learning about: who is Joseph Ti? How did he get the balls to steal your music and put it up? Did he accrue any royalties prior to being discovered as a music thief? Another proof of your music being yours: the creation date on any files on your digital audio workstation software should suffice as prior art (though I could be wrong). As an independent musician myself I’ve heard of stories like this but this is proof it could happen to anyone. I was recently clued into an artist who sounded very much like my music but hadn’t actually duplicated anything as brazenly as this.

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20139:39 pm

      You’re right, and I’ve amended the post to address a few of those topics. For the rest:

      “How did he get the balls to steal your music and put it up?” – No idea, and sadly, it doesn’t look like I’m the only one. I think he thought the internet was so big, no one would notice. Nope.

      “Did he accrue any royalties prior to being discovered as a music thief?” – Unfortunately so. Not a crazy amount, and I am recovering part of them. The money’s okay, but knowing someone was parading my music around under another name? Ugh. Drove me bonkers. So grateful most of it’s over.

      I hope your situation ended well. Was it a stylistic similarity or was this person lifting songs from you?

  • Jukka Ikävalko

    Reply November 22, 201310:36 am

    Maybe you can turn this story for your advantage. Because I’m now listening Jeremy Lim and already favoriting new songs :)

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20139:33 pm

      With or without my input! Everyone’s been so supportive. This has been a crazy journey, but I’m so grateful the story’s been resonating with folks. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the music, Jukka! Thank you!

  • djTrailmixxx

    Reply November 22, 20131:16 pm

    Get some BMI son! http://www.bmi.com/

  • Solange Soleil

    Reply November 22, 20132:03 pm

    As a music lawyer in the US, I say this: While in the US, copyright also exists at the time of creation into tangible form, registration is what gives impact. You CAN register copyright with the US Copyright office, and it is a good idea, since Youtube and other things are in the US. Being registered before the infringement gives the possibility of statutory damages of $150,000 per song plus lawyer fees. So it is a huge deterrent and can lead to settlements. It costs $35 per work to register with http://www.copyright.gov — Sue Basko http://suebasko.blogspot.com

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20139:31 pm

      Thanks so much, Sue! Having those numbers is really helpful. I appreciate it!

  • Taalen

    Reply November 23, 20136:04 am

    Sadly you still can’t do anything if it’s major labels and people like Timbaland that steal your work (like he did to Janne Suni. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timbaland_plagiarism_controversy)

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20139:29 pm

      Whoa – never heard about that. Really not a fan of how Timbaland responded to the whole ordeal. Ugh, I feel ill just thinking about it.

  • Dov

    Reply November 23, 20136:01 pm

    good job getting your tunes back this articles was well written and helpful, as someone who runs and works for labels I’ve encountered this sort of thing before, the worst case was actually a digital distributor that was perpetuating the fraud and claiming it was music submitted to them from elsewhere, oddly enough in very similar genres and compilations to the ones you mention. Keep up the good work

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply November 23, 20139:23 pm

      Do you mind writing me at [email protected]? I don’t think that’s a coincidence and I’d love to trade notes. So sorry to hear that happened to you, Dov. This underhandedness is really quite bunk.

  • Kori L Carothers

    Reply December 15, 201312:01 pm

    Thanks for posting this. Always good to know how to fight back. Keep fighting the good fight!

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply December 16, 201312:19 pm

      A pleasure! Thanks for reading!

  • Thom

    Reply January 10, 201412:29 pm

    Joseph Ti from Russia? Ukrainian? Sorry, but probably you’ll never find him there.

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply January 12, 20143:33 pm

      I know, right? It’s okay! We just have to keep moving!

  • Pingback: Copyright; Copyleft | masonsustayta

    Reply January 19, 201411:45 pm
  • Katalinwordsandmusic

    Reply April 29, 20142:56 pm

    I know how you feel and I still feel it. This has happened to me in a different way. I have a song which was previously released on vinyl and registered with PRS the uk collection society years ago, yet I accidentally found it on Youtube, exactly the same lyrics and melody but with a new production and a new title, released as a single and also on an album and the writing credits attributed to the highly respected well known international artist who recorded it. (He was my friend when he lived here in the uk for a while) As I had proof, it stopped PRS paying out the publishing royalties to him, the royalties are held in an interim account at PRS, that is all the registration did for me so far. Like you it’s not about the money, what hurts more then anything else is that I wrote this great song and not credited as the author. I have not given up on finding help and a solution…

  • Blythe Bast

    Reply May 6, 20145:55 am

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write all this out. Tonight, just a few hours ago, I was greeted with the same type if YouTube email saying that Kontor New Media owns a song that is mine and posted last December ’13 as a video; their stolen version of my track called “Mashout (extended version) by Cris Dom, likely an alias, was only released mid-April, a couple weeks ago. I am livid because not only did they steal from me, they muted my original video that is linked to several websites my video is on. And if anyone goes to it, it’s embarrassing as it says basically that I am at fault. This infuriates me so much and is overwhelming all at once. But I need to set this straight. I have been working for 4 years straight and about 15 hour days on average 6 days a week to properly learn how to produce electronic music…

  • Blythe Bast

    Reply May 6, 20145:59 am

    And I found my song on all major websites being sold to boot! Incredible. I am so bummed and so angry at the same time I wish I could right this immediately. I also wish I had more time now to deal with this but I’m so busy working (producing music professionally for artists) amongst all life has thrown at me right now I’m afraid I won’t literally have enough hours to deal with this jerk. Grrr….

  • Leigh Denyer

    Reply October 28, 20146:37 am

    This is a great article. I have had the very same experiences dealing with works stolen from 2 of my clients. We made good headway by taking the story to the Guardian Newspaper in the UK http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/aug/06/edm-electronic-dance-music-singers
    As sales exceed 3 million copies – the fight has been pretty hard. iTunes have been great, platforms such as Beatport removed content but wouldn’t confirm where the revenue went. Youtube’s infrastructure (along with googles auto generated info on search pages) are the most frustrating.

  • Mark Kunoff

    Reply March 23, 201512:18 pm

    Wow. Great, informative article. How did you find out about the infringed tracks initially? Did someone else alert you? Do you have any recommendations on finding your own music on pirate sites? I tried searching for an app that would crawl the web to match the wave forms of my music, but haven’t found anything yet. Thanks for any suggestions you might have.

    • Jeremy Lim

      Reply March 24, 201511:54 am

      I got alerted through YouTube’s Content ID. As for finding your own music, give Google Alerts a shot as well as ToppleTrack! There’s a link to the latter in the post. :)

      • Mark Kunoff

        Reply March 25, 20156:36 am

        Thank you for the reply! So, it sounds like Youtube might be actually be a better place for my music than Soundcloud? But then again, you can’t make a video downloadable on youtube, right?

        • Jeremy Lim

          Reply March 25, 201510:21 am

          In some senses, though not necessarily for protection. In truth, if it’s online, anyone can take it; you can absolutely download YouTube videos.

          In hindsight, my best advice would to be get popular faster. When you publish your work, get it out to iTunes and the majors first so they have a concrete reference point for who got there first.

  • Askem Damus

    Reply May 11, 201511:06 pm

    We need to talk I ve been having this feeling that sum body close to me that I know Some how so smart took my hard drive from my computer and now pretending to be me cause he making money off my music ! Bro get at me please . Ps ur beats are dope ! Remind me of mine

  • Askem Damus

    Reply May 11, 201511:08 pm

    Claims to have a company pretends to be a producer.. Hit me up

  • Askem Damus

    Reply May 12, 20155:29 am

    Man this whole shit makes me hate music . And that sucks cuz I really fucking love music I got sum dope ass beats and it sucks cuz nobody will ever get to hear em . Thanks to this fucking cyber war going on people stealing other people’s beats and just adding a sound smart enough to turn it around and fucking make money off other people art . Like where the fuck does this shit come from . Who has the fucking time to sit around and think about this shit . FUCKEM

  • Sg Varga

    Reply July 18, 20155:22 am

    The internet is a gateway for our songs and (parts of our songs) to be stolen by already established artists.

  • ShadTheMinecrafter

    Reply October 9, 20154:54 pm

    Hey, I had the same problem with you. Although I had never, ever intended to steal any songs that are copyrighted, I made up my own song to use it on my YouTube videos. However, some multiple videos, with my OWN songs, were in the copyright claim section. I OWN THOSE MUSICS. I created it myself! They must have stole it! I even put it up THAT IT’S MY OWNERSHIP in the description. Some people are dumb enough not to read it and stole it probably using YouTube to MP3 tool. Yes I admit – I do use that tool to download SOME songs I need, but really? My songs aren’t that great either, they just want to steal it for nothing. Nevertheless, I almost even got a copyright strike after I tried to dispute the claim. So the better way for me was to remove all of my songs that were published on YouTube, accept for the tribute songs I usually do. I followed the YouTube guidelines VERY seriously. This has to stop. All these come from these “musicians”: Mattheo Trevisan, and more I could not list them all.

  • Mitch

    Reply December 15, 20152:03 pm

    Hi Jeremy,

    I was reading some posts you had put up and hoped you might be able to provide some guidance in my situation.

    Long story short, I started a project – Used all of my own material (I hold evidence of Copyright from years
    beforehand) and the project basically became an unhappy working space so I decided to leave.

    When I left, I said I would play any remaining gigs/future gigs if they wanted, gave them the ability to
    continue using my material for 6 months until they form a new set, I gave them $4,000 of merch to which I wanted no monetary claim to, and the use of the logo which I had designed.

    They are now saying that they should be able to use the songs for as long as they want because quote “We worked so hard on them”. But other than learning the parts which were written down, no work had really gone on. I had written up an agreement basically spelling everything out and now they say they won’t sign it.

    My biggest issue is that nobody in the band did anything to help to project along, and I know that sounds spiteful to say; but I wrote all the songs (except two of which I do not want anything to do with), did artwork, made merch, organised gigs, liaised with promoters, organised the recordings, did all social media and online stores etc etc.

    I’ve had friends call me a fool as I gave them the Merch in good faith + the $1,000 which was in the Band Funds
    (an account I had operated). So effectively lost any bargaining chips which I held. But it was in good faith… So I assumed that it would be received as such.

    Have you got any advice?

  • Time

    Reply February 22, 20176:51 am

    Can you help spread the word? gofundme.com/RXSongShark

  • John Mahoney

    Reply October 5, 20193:17 pm

    Im dealing with a similar but different situation… I run a small label and strongly believe I had someone try to get someone else’s music distributed through us. I can’t prove this but just have really good instincts based on conversations with “the artist”. How can I find out if this music is someone else’s. I feel they should be informed if i am correct.

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