Friday, January 18, 2013

[Video] Baby Got Back - Sir Mix-A-Lot - Jonathan Coulton - Glee

Update from Wired 1/27/13:

Jonathan Coulton vs. Glee: It's About the Ethics By Michele Catalano:
Coulton may not have any legal recourse here, but there is an ethical question at issue that the FOX must answer. Is it right to use an artists’s work and then say he should be glad for the exposure?

...Coulton’s “Baby Got Back” is not his own song, but his own interpretation of the song with music he created. For FOX to not care that they are taking someone else’s work and calling it their own or, worse, to acknowledge it is someone else’s work but dismiss his right to be credited, is unethical and underhanded.

Glee makes its living off of covers. If it weren’t for the work of other artists, the show wouldn’t even exist. That they are stealing – yes, stealing – works from other artists does not speak well for the creative team of the show nor of the ethical or moral concerns of FOX and everyone involved with choice to air the song uncredited.

FOX needs to do the right thing and at least retroactively give Coulton credit for his arrangement.

Update from Jonathan Coulton 1/26/13:

Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee):
This went up in the iTunes store a lot faster than I expected (nice work there Tunecore), and some of you have already found it:

iTunes: Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)
GooglePlay: Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)
AmazonMP3: Not active yet, but soon.

I’ve released this track as a single – it should be on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play eventually if it’s not already. It’s a cover of Glee’s cover of my cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s song, which is to say it’s EXACTLY THE SAME as my original version. I’m releasing this under the same Harry Fox license I used for the 2005 release, so Mix will get all the royalties due to him. I’ll donate the proceeds from all sales that happen between now and the end of February to two charities: The VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and The It Gets Better Project.

Can you copy a cover of an original song and use it commercially without compensating the intermediate artist?

Visit Jonathan Coulton's Download Store and Buy Some Music or make a PayPal Donation. I sent him $10.


'Glee' uses Jonathan Coulton's cover of 'Baby Got Back' without permission
And unfortunately there's not much he can do about it
...while musicians are allowed to make stylistic changes to songs as they cover them, their reworkings of the original song aren't protected by copyright unless they get permission from the original songwriter — the song itself still belongs to the songwriter...

Final result? The licensing fees Coulton pays in order to sell "Baby Got Back" just clear him to sell the song, but don't create a new copyright in his arrangement. His work arranging the song effectively has no copyright at all — which means Glee's producers could take it at will.


Baby Got Back - Sir Mix-A-Lot

Baby Got Back - Jonathan Coulton

[2:17] "Johnny C's In Trouble"

Baby Got Back - Alleged Glee Cast Version

[2:17] "Johnny C's In Trouble"

Baby Got Back - JoCopedia, the Jonathn Coulton wiki:

The TV show Glee airing an episode called "Sadie Hawkins", which features a cover of "Baby Got Back". The song bares a strong similiarity to this version.

Following the story:

Who Owns The Arrangement?:
Sarah’s been in the New York University Women’s College Bobbletones since her freshman year. She arranged every single one of the songs for the All-Michael-Jackson A cappella Tribute Album...

Arrangements are what the Copyright Act calls derivative works. Making derivative works is a right exclusively granted to the songwriter under copyright law. The arranger can claim a copyright only when the songwriter has granted that privilege to the arranger. But that’s not the case with Sarah. Like most a cappella arrangers, she heard the songs, liked the songs and put her heart and soul into arranging the songs. That's not enough to give Sarah ownership.

While it is legal for Sarah to arrange songs for a recording when the group pays the proper royalties for the songs, neither Sarah nor the Bobbletones actually own the arrangements of those songs.

Glee throws a legal slushy in Jonathan Coulton's face, says he should be happy it ripped off his cover
After airing its rip-off of Jonathan Coulton’s version of “Baby Got Back” last night, Glee has finally responded to the singer-songwriter. In a very non-Gleek-friendly response, reps for the show apparently told Coulton “they’re within their legal rights to do this”—which is true—and that the singer should just be happy with the exposure. Though, as Coulton points out, they don’t credit him anywhere in the show or on the song, so it’s “secret exposure.”
Wired: Jonathan Coulton Explains How Glee Ripped Off His Cover Song — And Why He’s Not Alone:
Coulton said that while his lawyers have been looking into the copyright issue, it seems unlikely that he will have any legal recourse. ”It seems that because of the compulsory license I purchased when I made a cover of this song, the arrangement itself is not protected under copyright, although it’s the darkest gray of the gray areas [of the law]… While there may be some weird offshoot of the law, it doesn’t seem like something where a little guy could sue to get any satisfaction.”

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