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Music Television Your Rights Online

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?

  • Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 27, 2013 @09:43PM (#42711711)

    What the hell is wrong with you people. Whether or not you like the style of his song is completely fucking irrelevant.

    Here is a classic, indisputable, pristine example of the 'big guy' completely steam rolling over the 'little guy'. Any revenge he can extract is a cause that you all would be championing if it was a indie linux dev who had some GPL code stolen or some such.

    Stop obfuscating the situation with your shitty opinion on if the song was 'good' or not.

    • by OverlordQ (264228)

      Here is a classic, indisputable, pristine example of the 'big guy' completely steam rolling over the 'little guy'. Any revenge he can extract is a cause that you all would be championing if it was a indie linux dev who had some GPL code stolen or some such..

      It wasn't stolen. If you cant call downloading movies and games stealing, you can't call this stealing either. He wasn't deprived of his property. So get your double standards straight.

      • by cgimusic (2788705)
        Whilst it is not stealing it is not the same as non-commercial piracy either. It is a lot worse than that because of the fact that it is plagiarism and because of the fact that it is being used commercially.
        • by tehcyder (746570)

          Whilst it is not stealing it is not the same as non-commercial piracy either. It is a lot worse than that because of the fact that it is plagiarism and because of the fact that it is being used commercially.

          You're missing the point: why is plagiarism so much worse than straight copying? At least with plagiarism there is some original work going on. And what difference does it make whether copying is for personal or commercial use? You're still using material without permission.

          It is illogical to oppose copyright, then moan when people copy things in ways that do not benefit the original artist.

      • by mufflon (634922)
        It's definitely stealing - though not as in theft (i.e. larsony). It's completely inane to make this yet another slashdot anti-RIAA-related topic when the initial topic carries none of those attributes.
    • by 1u3hr (530656)

      What the hell is wrong with you people. Whether or not you like the style of his song is completely fucking irrelevant.

      What's completely fucking irrelevant is this story about a song on "Glee" being featured on Slashdot. Is this TMZ or Variety?

      • What the hell is wrong with you people. Whether or not you like the style of his song is completely fucking irrelevant.

        What's completely fucking irrelevant is this story about a song on "Glee" being featured on Slashdot. Is this TMZ or Variety?

        I don't watch or follow Glee in the slightest, so I must have completely missed the memo advising that the production of Glee is totally free of any intellectual property rights and associated issues.

        I also outgrew Mickey Mouse when I was 9, so I'm sure I missed a similar memo about how Disney's effect on copyrights is irrelevant.

        • by 1u3hr (530656)

          so I must have completely missed the memo advising that the production of Glee is totally free of any intellectual property rights and associated issues.

          I must have missed the memo that anything that someone can imagine is linked to copyright in some way is on topic here. Even though it isn't even mentioned in TFA. Any random article about show biz is on topic then.

          • When copyright and IP issues in showbiz become headline and gossip fodder on TMZ or Variety, then you can complain that it's become something that "normal" people care about and can dismiss it as dreck. Until then, yes, any article pertaining to the sordid state of IP laws and how the industry (especially Hollywood showbiz) abuses it, can be considered a proper topic for Slashdot to cover.

            • by 1u3hr (530656)

              any article pertaining to the sordid state of IP laws

              Which TFA is not, it isn't even mentioned.

              • OK, I see where your confusion stems from. This was a direct follow-up to the Slashdot story just 3 days ago [slashdot.org]. In *that* linked article [wired.com], the IP issues and ethics are pretty clearly spelled out.

                What Coulton did definitely deserved a follow-up, but as editor, timothy was negligent for not linking to the original story to make the association clear.

    • by gsslay (807818)

      Absolutely. It's depressing that so many people believe that a 'good' song is some kind of absolute measure you can base a legal or moral decision on. A 'good' song is just a personal opinion of no value to anyone but the holder.

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      Say some crackpot racist bigot got his crappy song copied by a big corporation, the words changed and they made a million dollars out of it, would I feel any sympathy for the crackpot racist bigot?

      Nope.

  • 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 L. J. Beauregard (111334) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @10:26PM (#42711947)

    Since when do plutocrats care about looking churlish?

  • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @11:19PM (#42712205)

    ...so I have to say it.

    DMCA takedown notices from Fox for this version AND Jonathan Coulton's first version in 3...2...1...

    • by gknoy (899301)

      I'd be more interested in what would happen to Fox's channel if Coulton were to have issued takedown requests on _theirs_.

      • Someone at youtube looks at the notice, laughs, and throws it in the bin.

        This does mean youtube becomes potentially liable, but for someone like Fox - a very popular and successful corporate giant, willing to supply the best lawyers money can buy to defend against any legal action - that is a justified risk.

  • by millst (635068)
    Am I missing something. Jonathan Coulton didn't write the song either. Its a COVER of someone elses song. Perhaps I am missing something Nobody has to ask anybody for permission to do a cover of a song. You just record it and release it and then pay the royalties after the fact. Glee is not liable to pay Jonathan Coultan anything because he did not write the song. Even if he had written it, they don't have to ask his permission to cover it. As far as I know, re-arrangement is not recognised under copyri
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 27, 2013 @11:50PM (#42712401)

      You are missing a few things.

      First, Coulton didn't just cover it. He modified it greatly so that the end result, while still obviously a version of the original song, was nonetheless a new work in its own right.

      Second, Glee is a TV show, and TV shows must license the synchronization rights to use a song. Period.

      Third, in addition to not licensing the song, the show didn't even bother to credit him. That's just plain old douchebaggery.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        fox most probably did license the song. they might have not licensed using jc's recording of it though.

        but the actual problem is that they couldn't really license the song from jc anyways.. despite it being a total rape of the original it's not an original song because that's how he labeled it himself, as just a cover. (I'm guessing this is actually because if he had just took the lyrics.. then there wouldn't have been a compulsory license, so he claims he covered the song when in fact he just took the lyri

    • Not quite: people say they actually ripped his melody off. Directly. Using waveform reduction.
      That may give him legal ground.

      Also, with that kind of logic you can try and cover Rising Sun by the Animals using their arrangement, or a lot of things by Zeppelin (yes, even Stairway), because the original authors are long dead and gone.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Also, with that kind of logic you can try and cover Rising Sun by the Animals using their arrangement, or a lot of things by Zeppelin (yes, even Stairway), because the original authors are long dead and gone.

        Stairway to Heaven was written by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, both of whom are somewhat alive.

    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      Coulton says that he licensed rights to perform and distribute the original. Presumably Fox did that too.

      Coulton then produced a distinctively transformed version, creating new rights in his composition.

      Fox then used Coulton's distinctive composition (possibly even a straight rip-n-play) without licensing, permission, thanks or acknowledgement, except a surly "Damn hippy should be grateful for the publicity, not that we meant to give him any".

  • by TheSwift (2714953) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @11:25PM (#42712241)
    I'm making a note here - huge success.
  • 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.

  • Not a fan of this song in particular, but I like a lot of Coulton's other stuff. I'm glad (but not surprised) that he's found a clever, creative way to increase his profile and bring some attention to the kind of double standard the big entertainment companies employ daily... screwing artists and consumers both with impunity.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Watch it get DMCA'd by the assholes who used it without permission in the first place.

  • 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/

  • To scream and warble like zoo animals that he's now officially a homophobe.

  • I would have released an entire Glee season cover album without authorization. Just one song is ignorable and everyone can sweep this under the rug. Pull off a whole album and they'd be forced to respond, which would make asses out of themselves.
  • Right from TFA:

    Indeed, he says he was told he "should be happy for the exposure."

    I guess everyone now has the perfect response, provided by the studios themselves...

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux

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