I'm walking to my car from having had a cup of coffee at some non-descript coffee joint. A gentleman I'd just met is walking alongside me. He also, I assume, going to his own car after our meeting. As we are walking, we pass by a church, who's door is crooked open slightly. We hear an uillian pipe pierce through the opening. Immediately, my head turns to listen.
Mostly, I clue in because the sound of the pipe is so clear and obvious, and I've used it in my own music more than a few times. It's one of my favorite instruments. The gentleman with me has a similar reaction. He said, "I love the sound of pipes!" I said, "Yeah, me too, as a matter of fact, this actually sounds like a recording of a pipe that I did myself!"
So I walked towards the church door, and opened it. I pass through the door to see a full orchestra and pipe player, fully engaged in the execution of a musical work that, well.... I'd written and recorded myself!
I had one of those moments. Like when you first hear your own music/song play on the radio. My first thought was that somehow this obscure, unknown, unpopular piece of music I had written had somehow magically made it's way into someone's hands, and they'd decided to use it in a performance. Knowing the difficulty of the piece, I knew it was no small effort for them to do this. It's not your typical sunday morning piece.
I quickly see a secretary there. I walked up to her and I said, "Hi, my name is Pete Warren. I wrote the piece the orchestra just performed." She seemed shocked." She pulls out a program, looks at the song on a list of pieces that are set for this special performance, and she says, "now wait, the one they just did with the pipe?" I said, "yes." She said, "Um, which of the two writers are you?"
Now let's back up a second. Because infringement can happen in several ways. You can, as I understand it, create a substantially similar piece of music that is similar to one you've had access to, or you can basically claim to have written something you didn't write.
No question... I wrote this piece of music. Now sure, it may have some similarities to traditional public domain irish melodies, but that, at best could have been similar to the melodies written by someone else, inspired by the same source. I'd leave room for that. But no, this was a note for note performance of the recording I'd made of the song and released last year on a project.
The other matter that began to spin within my head was the idea that I was unaware of any licensing of this work for print. So I began to wonder who had bothered to release a score to it. I own the publishing. I'd have known if someone had licensed it's use in such a way. Especially if it'd happened locally.
Again, this was MY SONG and a nearly 100% pure performance of my arrangement of the song as it was on my recording. Oh, we also created a prototype video (with my friend Jon Ward doing the video work) on this song as a worship service starter. But candidly, since it was created and posted on youtube, it's not been, to my knowledge, been used in any worship services in any way. Especially since I printed footnotes all over it so people couldn't use it without license. So really, the song was recorded and released on my album, and then a video was created for use in worship services, but no scores or parts were ever put in print. Someone had to do A LOT of work without my knowledge on this.
So back to the story...
AS she's looking at the program, she says, are you "so and so or so and so?" Now, she says the names, but I can't repeat them. But suffice it to say that my name is neither of the two listed and credited as having written and arranged this song.
Now, the song had a different name than I'd given it. So I was still thinking she had it wrong. I repeated my name, and said, "You don't see my name anywhere on that program?" She affirms this.
Now, at this point, I'm a complex mix of emotions. I'm excited they're using my music in worship. I'm upset that I'm not getting credit (yeah, I know, part ego and part just wanting to be fairly paid and recognized for my hard work).
I think mostly, I was just in shock. I actually turned and walked out the door, thinking, "Who has stolen my work?" Then I realize as I'm a block away, that the answer was on that program. So of course, I have a "d'oh" moment. I turn back towards the church. As I arrive at the church, I realize the previously open door is now closed. AND LOCKED!
I knock on the door, asking for the woman. I can see her through the glass. I ask her for a simple copy of the program. I explain to her that I really did write that song, and that i need a copy of the program to research who and how someone else is taking credit for my work. I ask to come in. As I do this, she is shaking her head at me in disbelief.
She has a cell phone in her hand. I don't know why I snapped. But I went nuts inside my head. I was so angry that she didn't believe me.
I was angry that someone had taken credit for my hard work.
I was angry that she'd not just give me a copy of the program so I could figure this all out.
Before I knew what was happening, I was banging on the door asking her, pleading with her, begging her to just slip a program through the mail slot. I was so freaking angry at this woman for not helping me right a clear injustice.
The guy that was with me... I think he was in shock as well. He had no idea what was going on.
The next thing I remember was this guy saying, "Pete, look out..."
Suddenly, my knees were knocked out below me. It was as though a car had just hit me from behind.
Immediate, radiating pain from the back of my knees and my side. A stab in my legs and a jolt in my side, near my right kidney.
I fell to the ground with a thud and convulsed, completely confused by what was happening. I barely have my wits about me as I roll to my back. Looking up, I see two dark men with the sun at their backs.
The men were in uniforms. Blue ones. Without warning, I'd had my knees knocked out from under me by one, and shot with a taser gun by the other.
Imagine that... Now the injustice of simple infringement was a complete travesty of justice. They were arresting me before I knew it. My face was being scraped across the concrete, my hands bound behind me with a knee in my back. Barking orders at me I could barely obey because of the pain of it all. I was screaming back at them. I'm sure they thought I was insane.
My body was still jerking some as they righted me and pushed me towards their car. I could barely walk. They took this as a lack of cooperation. I was just trying to cope with it all. In shock and disbelief.
There was now a crowd assembled, watching. Some laughing. Many pointing. The woman was thanking another officer who had just arrived.
It all happened so fast. I'd love to tell you what happened next, but I can't. Because at this point, I woke up and realized I was sitting in my own bed, safe and sound. Baby crying. Just like she'd been doing 2 hours before.
Man, I need some more sleep.