Cebuana Vispop artist claims song was illegally licensed by former publisher

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES, October 15 ------ 'After much thought and with good advice from my lawyer, I have decided I cannot tolerate this anymore,' says Cebuana Vispop artist Lourdes Maglinte. Cebuana Vispop artist Lourdes Maglinte alleged in a statement on Monday, October 11 that her former publisher Christian Darius "Ian" Zafra of ICO Music had illegally licensed her song “Laylay” for a movie and denied her royalties. Maglinte had learned earlier, through a Facebook post by fellow Cebuana artist Dulce, that her song was being used for the movie Gensan Punch, directed by prominent filmmaker Brillante Mendoza.

“It has been brought to my attention that Ian Zafra and ICO Music has misrepresented me to a film producer by granting a license and collecting royalties on my behalf,” Maglinte then said in a social media post dated October 5, prior to her statement on the 11th. “For the benefit of public interest, I am informing everyone that Christian Darius 'Ian' Zafra and/or ICO Music does not represent me or any of my songs anymore. Any license acquired from and through Christian Darius 'Ian' Zafra and/or ICO Music shall be considered illegal and unlawful,” she added in the Facebook post.

The artist explained in her post that on March 19, 2018, she wrote to Zafra to inform him that she wouldn't be renewing her contract with ICO Music due to the latter’s failure to pay her royalties since the release of her song “Laylay” in 2013. A second notice was also sent to Zafra on April 8 of the same year through her lawyer Pablo John Garcia.

On October 5, Maglinte also sent a third cease and desist letter to Zafra through her current lawyer Rhea Mae Senining-Judilla. Maglinte’s song “Laylay” had won first runner-up in the popular songwriting contest Vispop in 2013. Maglinte made a comeback in the 2015 run of the competition and won the grand prize with her song “Buwag Balik.”

P100,000 in fees

In the October 11 statement, Maglinte said she had found, through screenshots of online messages shared to her by the film's producers, that ICO Music had collected P100,00 in license fees for the song. “I am thankful to the film producers who have done everything in their capacity to cooperate with me. But after much thought and with good advice from my lawyer, I have decided I cannot tolerate this anymore,” said Maglinte.

Maglinte also alleged that Zafra had attempted to conceal the transaction by insisting to the film producers in the online messages that they keep it “confidential,” and that he would "disclose the details of the contract to the songwriters." Maglinte said she was never informed.

Zafra's response

On Tuesday, October 12, Zafra shared with Rappler ICO's response to Maglinte's counsel on the issue, denying claims that Maglinte had not been informed of the transaction. “We must establish here that Ms. Maglinte and her label 22 Tango Music Group are not clueless of the transaction. Prior to the film producer's engagement with ICO Music, the producer actually first approached her management through the mobile no. 0995 092 1504,” their statement read.

“In the conversation, your client's management apparently consulted the label and suggested to contact ICO Music to process the copyright administration of the song 'Laylay,'" it added. ICO also stated that they had responded to Maglinte’s second notice on April 8, 2018 with a letter dated July 16, 2018. “We hope that you and your clients will be amenable to a more open discussion in which we can reach an amicable settlement without resorting to costly and time-consuming legal processes,” it said.

ICO also said Zafra would instruct his legal counsel to arrange a meeting with Maglinte to discuss the issue further and settle related payments. However, in a separate interview on Thursday, October 14, Maglinte’s current counsel Senining-Judilla said that Zafra’s legal team has not reached out to her or even to Maglinte's former legal counsel Garcia since 2018.