Copyright Dispute – Teaser Trailer Music

Hi Everyone,

We unfortunately have upsetting news to share with you all.  As some of you may have heard already, we are in the middle of an ugly copyright dispute with Joy Autumn regarding the part of her song that is in our Teaser Trailer, Kickstarter, and About the Game videos.

Let us say at the outset that we would never steal from anyone.  We never have and we never will.  Joy’s claims are simply not true.  Back in January she gave us clear, written permission to use her song, and now nine months later, she is all of a sudden acting like that never happened and accusing us of stealing.

For those that are interested in the details, we are happy to share and we want to be as transparent about this whole situation as possible.

We asked Joy if she was interested in working with us on the music for Homesick way back in December, 2012.  At that point, we were brainstorming about different ideas for music for the game and were in discussions with a few different musicians we had heard of and thought might be a good fit.  Then we realized that Joy might be interested; Morgan is old college friends with Joy’s older sister and we had recently become friends with Joy when she moved to Los Angeles.  We went to one of her performances and thought it would be fun to work together.  Further, since we were going to be promoting somebody’s music as part of the game, we realized it would be cool if we got to promote one of our friends.

We emailed Joy in December, asking if she was interested in the idea.  We explained our whole plan — that we were going to do a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for Barrett to live on while he worked on the game full time.  If she wrote music for the game, we would pay her a percentage of the sales money.  She was really enthusiastic about the whole thing, said she wanted to do it, and she sent us the instrumental versions of some of her existing music, including the instrumental version of Lullaby, to see if any of it would work for the Teaser Trailer.  At that time, the non-instrumental version was available for download for free from her website.  Portions of the song were a great fit with the Teaser Trailer so in January we asked her if we could use it.  She emailed back: “Yes, of course!”  We made it clear this would be used for videos that would be on the Kickstarter page as well as our Steam Greenlight page.  At no point did she ever say that she wanted any compensation for our use of Lullaby, or that we could only use it for the duration of the Kickstarter campaign.

When we launched the Kickstarter campaign and the Steam Greenlight page, we emailed her several times with links to these pages.  We were super excited about how successful both campaigns were, and we excitedly gave Joy updates about how well it was going.  We also want to point out that we credited Joy at every opportunity, including in the info section for each YouTube video, on our Kickstarter main page, and everywhere else that we could.  We also talked about her at every opportunity, including during our Kickstarter video and in interviews with the press.  We were excited to promote Joy and her music.

On the last day of the Kickstarter campaign, we had a little party to celebrate.  Here is a picture of us with Joy at the party:

Throughout February and March, we emailed and talked with Joy several times about the terms of a contract for her to write an original score for Homesick.  We discussed a few different ideas of how to structure her compensation (what percentage she would get, etc), and she generally seemed really excited about it all.  At one point she proposed some terms we could not agree with.  When we told her that, she basically said it was no problem and she wanted to go with our proposal.  She said: “I’m absolutely in, and am fine with the agreements you guys had proposed.”  She said it was her friend that wrote up the terms we didn’t like: “I didn’t even write up the counter offers, [my friend] did, and like I told you on the phone, I’m not doing it for the financials, I just want to do the game because I really, really like you guys and I believe in the project!”

So we moved forward.  On March 22, we met with Joy and she played us some initial ideas she had for the music.  We talked about them and she said she would send us further ideas in a few weeks.  Well, weeks went by.  Weeks turned into months.  She never contacted us.  She left us without any music, and with no explanation.

We were left with no choice but to try and find a different composer.  Fortunately, we found one and it has been great working with our new composer.

In August when we signed a contract with the new composer, we did a post on Kickstarter about it.  We then emailed Joy the link to the post, to make sure she knew we had no hard feelings.  Joy wrote back, apologizing for not contacting us sooner, for not communicating, and for not staying on top of the project.  She told us she was having some personal issues.  She said she was “really happy you found a composer you are both excited about and it’s going well!  I really believe in the game and think its going to be a huge success.”  Well, we figured, sometimes people go through rough patches.  It happens.

Then a few weeks later, out of the blue, we get an email and voicemail from Joy, saying we didn’t credit her on Steam, saying she didn’t give us permission to use the song for Steam, and she doesn’t even know when we posted it.  To be honest, this seemed pretty strange since she knew about the Steam Greenlight page, we had emailed her links to the Steam page several times, we had even shown it to her in person, and we made it really clear back in January when we first asked if we could use her song that the Steam page would have videos on it with her song in it.  And the Youtube videos embedded on the Steam page clearly credit her.  We emailed her back explaining all this.  But over the next few weeks she sent us more emails insisting that we were somehow using her music without crediting her and without her permission.  We kept explaining that we didn’t understand what she was talking about.  Then she started demanding that we either pay her or take down all our videos.  And now she filed complaints with Youtube and Kickstarter and others, claiming that the videos contain copyright violations.

With the exception of trying to work with Joy, making this game has a been such an amazing experience.  It’s sad that someone who we considered our friend would end up abandoning us, and now come back with these false claims.  We love our trailer, we want it back.  We had a lot of free music options available to us, but we chose our friend Joy, and now all we feel is grief.

We’re sorry for dragging this out in the public but we felt like we needed to let you know what was going on.  We hope it will be resolved soon and we’ll keep you updated.


Barrett and Morgan