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Jonathan Coulton Offers Some Gleeful Turnabout 157

Posted by timothy
from the copyright-and-covers-oh-my dept.
The TV show Glee may have borrowed Jonathan Coulton's arrangement of "Baby Got Back" without asking him first, but he's got a response of the kind that it'd be hard for the show's makers to criticize without looking churlish. Borrowing it back, and using it to raise money for charity. As CNET puts it, "Coulton has foxily tossed up on iTunes his own version of the song and titled it 'Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee).' He terms it 'my cover of Glee's cover of my cover.'"
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Jonathan Coulton Offers Some Gleeful Turnabout

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  • So... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @08:09PM (#42711131)

    What is Sir Mix-a-lot getting out of all of this?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 27, 2013 @08:23PM (#42711231)

    Yeah I agree. Fox totally ripped off that song in the first place because they knew it would churn up a bunch of Internet chatter about Glee. Have the ratings been down or something?

  • by ais523 (1172701) <ais523(524\)(525)x)@bham.ac.uk> on Sunday January 27, 2013 @08:24PM (#42711245)
    As Capcom showed recently, there are often situations where you have the alternatives of engaging in expensive legal battles, or getting a bunch of free marketing and good publicity out of the situation. The second option is rarely taken, but it's nearly always better, and I applaud people for taking it.
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @09:55PM (#42711787) Homepage

    Years ago, I thought Code Monkey was funny and sly, and although I'm not that into pop music, it had a good beat and was fun. It's under a CC license, which makes it possible for other people to do versions of it like this [youtube.com].

    The original Sir Mix-a-lot version of Baby Got Back has some interesting things to say about race and body image, and the video was funny in spots, but I thought Coulton's version was a hilariously silly juxtoposition of style with substance. Coulton goes up another notch in my estimation.

    Fox rips him off without credit and produces a Glee skit that's funny ... for exactly the same reasons Coulton's song was funny. That's pathetic.

    And then Coulton comes back with this very graceful response. Game, set, and match to Coulton.

  • by Dieppe (668614) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @10:51PM (#42712061) Homepage

    I have to call foul here. First of all, Jonathon Coulton previously had permission to perform the "Baby Got Back" song. Second, if a melody is important to the creation of what could be considered a "unique work", the original rap song had no discernible melody, except for a bass track that you could probably reproduce with your mouth no matter how unmusical you are. Jonathon Coulton created a unique melody to "Baby Got Back" and he changed one line to say "Johnny C's in trouble," referring to himself of course.

    Now anyone creating a cover of "Baby Got Back"---and make no mistake Glee and Fox have hordes of talented musicians to choose from. See how "Piano Guy" just pops up out of nowhere? --- could create a new version with a unique melody that is different and distinct from Jonathan Coulton's version. Are you familiar with the "Jeopardy" Theme Song? Ever hear it used in a cartoon, but it's not the original tune. Notes go down, instead of up, and it's only vaguely familiar? Fox, in this case, used EXACTLY the same melody as JoCo, down to the note.

    Lastly, JoCo's version has a different tempo than "Baby Got Back". There's a reason it's over 5 minutes long, when the original song is like 3 minutes something. The Glee version, while they could have sped up the tempo, or slowed down the tempo, is exactly the same.

    Now I won't go into possible "duck" samples, or questioning the exact same use of the banjo, but Glee's version of "Baby Got Back" isn't a cover of the original Sir Mix-a-Lot's version, it's practically a note-for-note copy of JoCo's cover: same melody, same tempo, same words that JoCo changed referencing himself, and using exactly the same instruments and general feel of the song.

    Fox has some giant balls on this one. I don't know why they bothered to change the vocals at all, personally, if they're going to steal the entire song in the first place.

    -D

  • by PuckSR (1073464) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @11:31PM (#42712289)

    But I spent the weekend trying to figure out why my Xbox suddenly quit communicating with my TV. Turns out that Microsoft pushed a new version of HDCP(a cracked encryption methodology) to encode NETFLIX in some weird attempt to protect all media all the time. Of course, this entire action makes no sense at all. It doesn't protect content from being pirated, and it doesn't make anyone's life any easier(mine, Microsoft's, or Netflix's). It was simply some idiots idea. That idiot worked for a major movie company. He required it in the contract with Netflix/Microsoft. They obliged because it was a minor issue.

    Why do I mention that on a comment about Jonathan Coulton getting ripped off by Glee? Media companies are giant corporations who see the law as something to be abused only to protect themselves. It doesn't have to make sense or even be consistent. If the situation was reversed, he would be sued. In this situation, he has no recourse. It will never make sense if you try to think about it from the perspective of a rational and reasonable individual.

    This will, unfortunately, always be the way of things. Unless lawmakers suddenly have some reason to drastically restructure the legal system to protect sanity, reason, and the individual over the monetary interests of their most important supporters we will never have a 'fair' system. Considering that no state in the history of the world has been able to avoid the egalitarianism and quid pro quo nature of Mandarin-type social levels, I doubt we will be able to achieve such a drastic technocratic change any time soon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:40AM (#42712871)

    An article from Fox was showing up in Google News, but no longer exists on the Fox website?
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://fox8.com/2013/01/26/singer-glee-ripped-off-my-cover-song/

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