Glee Rips Off Jonathan Coulton

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Rawne1980:
I find it hard to abuse Glee when it takes a song done by someone else who took the song from someone else.

It's not as if Coulton wrote the song or even put much effort into it ... it's a cover.

Had it been an original song it would have been different.

But I suppose the people here are right. Let's abuse a TV show for being unoriginal and stealing an unoriginal song off guy who covered the song of someone else because covering a song is original right? ..... RIGHT?

Nope, it's not.

But, according to a poll that popped up on this very forum last year, a hell of a lot of people here class themselves as having above average intelligence....

It truly shows, honest.

All we are asking is that the media companies hold themselves to the same standard that they ask us to hold ourselves to. Is that too much to ask? How many Youtube videos get pulled because the backing soundtrack is from a song someone else owns?

Oh dear. They have no idea what they are messing with.

RELEEEEEEEASE THE GEEK RAGE!!

Rawne1980:
I find it hard to abuse Glee when it takes a song done by someone else who took the song from someone else.

It's not as if Coulton wrote the song or even put much effort into it ... it's a cover.

Had it been an original song it would have been different.

But I suppose the people here are right. Let's abuse a TV show for being unoriginal and stealing an unoriginal song off guy who covered the song of someone else because covering a song is original right? ..... RIGHT?

Nope, it's not.

But, according to a poll that popped up on this very forum last year, a hell of a lot of people here class themselves as having above average intelligence....

It truly shows, honest.

You do realise that many countries copyright laws cover *arrangements* of songs as well as the songs themselves, right? I don't know what the US legal situation is, but in say Germany, if you as an artist perform a parody/homage/cover version of a better known song, your particular arrangement is legally protected through the musicians' rights organization GEMA. And GEMA WILL tear everyone who performs your version of that song a new one in your name (lest they pay GEMA, in which case both you and the original artist profit).

Wow, Fox. You just try to fuck over an Internet demigod.

You better be ready for a massive influx of nerd rage.

Zachary Amaranth:
Incidentally, you cannot copyright an arrangement, so there's no real legal problem here. No issue with "not getting his permission."

The U.S. Copyright Office disagrees with you.

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ50.pdf:
The copyright law of the United States provides for copyright protection in "musical works, including any accompanying words," that are fixed in some tangible medium of expression. 17 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). Musical works include both original compositions and original arrangements or other new versions of earlier compositions to which new copyrightable authorship has been added.

(emphasis added)

Ahahaha, so cheap, so funny in it's irony, nice one!
Ok, seriously, while i'm pretty open minded in media of any kind (the shit i've seen, glad my eyes didn't incinerate yet), i've never seen Glee until now and probably won't ever. Just looked at it because i like Coulton and wanted to know his reaction and it appears he just proves again to be the cool guy he is.
Classy, really, very classy indeed XD

Sirtety:

I'm pretty sure you're right about the legality issue (not a lawyer, wouldn't know); and I'm sure that not every band in existence contacts the original artist before doing a cover (unless they are making money off of it). I just think that a well known show, on a well known network, with a sizable fan base should be careful with the music they are using.

Heck they even left his name in the song.

But again, we've seen many people cover Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" clearly using Jimi Hendrix's version (which, admittedly, is considered THE version) with no credit to Jimi or his estate. Most popular covers use his version, with popular kind of implying that it has a wide audience.

Actually, the same thing could be said for a lot of Dylan songs, with (at the very least) "This Wheel's on Fire" coming immediately to mind.

Most people seem to use Aerosmith's version of "Train Kept A Rollin'" without credit to them, too. Only place I've seen Aerosmith credited was in Rock Band, with the "As made famous by" line.

Why should Glee exercise more caution than the entire music industry?

Zachary Amaranth:

Sirtety:

I'm pretty sure you're right about the legality issue (not a lawyer, wouldn't know); and I'm sure that not every band in existence contacts the original artist before doing a cover (unless they are making money off of it). I just think that a well known show, on a well known network, with a sizable fan base should be careful with the music they are using.

Heck they even left his name in the song.

But again, we've seen many people cover Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" clearly using Jimi Hendrix's version (which, admittedly, is considered THE version) with no credit to Jimi or his estate. Most popular covers use his version, with popular kind of implying that it has a wide audience.

Can you give a specific example of a cover of that song that uses Hendrix's arrangement without crediting him for it?

RobDaBank:
I for one am a big Glee fan, (22yo straight male with a child). And honestly don't see the big problem with them covering songs. They definitely put a unique twist on each song which gives a clear distinction between their songs and the original. If I were to sing a song and people enjoyed it, would I be subject to a lawsuit because that song belonged to somebody else?

Probably not, but understand your not on a TV show the purpose of which is to make money. Glee basially exists to sell advertising space during the run of the show, not to mention DVDs of the show, and of course sell their covers of songs, and any other merchandising they can find to work off of it. By using someone's song without their permission they are effectively stealing what someone else uses to make a living, and then making money off of their creation.

If you were to just sing a song for some friends or something like that, it's no big deal. On the other hand if you were to sing someone else's song and sell tickets without their permission, that would be an issue in all likelyhood.

As a strict matter of legality, giving away someone's IP can be a big deal, when it's an intellectual property nobody is going to pay for something they can get for free. For the most part with songs or whatever nobody cares, but strictly speaking if you cover them you can get in trouble.

In practice I'll also say that despite the law most performers and song writers don't much care if small bands make a few bucks using their stuff even under the table. If some high school garage band takes $100 to play a school party and does "Stairway To Heaven" it's not like Zepplin is liable to come after them with a legal team for it if they find out. On the other hand bands and songwriters DO care when your releasing their stuff on a national level. If Glee covers a song without permission and say sells 100k copies for 50 cents apiece as downloads (and that's a low estimate) your still dealing with $50,000 which is a good chunk of change being made off of someone else's creation. With something like Glee they could potentially make millions though when you consider the contribution their songs make to all of their merchandising accross the board.

In short Jonathan Coulton is right, they should have gotten his permission, and probably paid him royalties (choosing to waive them is his option).

Not to mention a side issue here, which is that the song writer/creator is oftentimes differant from the performer that makes something famous or popular. In most cases performers do not write their own music (though Jonathan does apparently write a lot of his own), the guy who wrote the song oftentimes takes a good chunk of the profits made from it and has a say in the business. In this paticular case Jonathan Coulton apparently cut a deal with Sir Mix-A-Lot's organization to do an alternate cover of this song, the deal probably means that he does not have exclusive rights to it, and the creator of the original gets a share of whatever profits are made, as well as a say in what's done with it. To use this song would probably require "Glee" to not only get permission from Jonathan Coulton but also the creator of the original version. By not policing his version Jonathan might even be held liable for someone else stealing it depending on the contract.

There is also another side to this as well. Glee is not exactly a non-political show. It's one of the most liberal, pro-gay, generally politically correct things ever created. We have a country that is polarized 50-50 politically, wavering on a few percentage points. At the time of his inaugeration Obama had only 51% support for example. With the way the media works, a lot of people see the numbers but don't really "get it" when everything is made to seem left wing, and like there is at least a clear majority in that direction. None of the big issues from gay rights to gun control, to anything else people argue about are exactly clear cut. Glee gets bashed so heavily in part because of it's slant and a lot of it's messages which half the population vehemently disagree with. Someone with the rights to a song might not want their work associated with a show like this, even if they agree with the messages it's still a business, and simply by having their work on Glee they could actually reduce their fan base. From a business perspective the best place to be is as neutral seeming as possible if you can help it. The creators and rights holders DO have a say on where their music appears and how it's used (which comes up from time to time when music is used by politicians in paticular, with both parties getting griped at). Jonathan Coulton or Sir Mix-a-lot might not want to have their work associated with something like "Glee" even if they otherwise agree with it (or maybe not). Whether that's an issue or not, the point is your supposed to ask first for a lot of reasons, including this.

Even outside of the politics there is also the whole issue that the results of Glee-covers are mixed to say the least. Some songs have even been deemed "ruined forever" by their involvement. It's also possible that you might not want a specific person or group to sing your song in front of a large enough audience due to the backlash. Like it or not sometimes you see a version of something so horrible that they can no longer appreciate the original, thinking of the disaster every time they hear it and not wanting to even put it in their mind. To be blunt if I had a popular song that Glee wanted to do, I'd insist on hearing their version of it first before giving them permission to put it on TV, no matter how much money the network offered me... and JC never even got the option to demand that.

DVS BSTrD:
But they didn't have time to ask his permission: If they win regionals then it's straight on to sectionals and then a week later is semis, then semi-regionals, then regional-semis, then national lower-zone semis.

OT: I really hope they cancel this show soon.

You and me both.... /facedesk

Look I hate to spoil everyones Glee Hate..but.

Jonathan Coulton covered Baby Got back. He's bitching about permisson when really it's not his to give.

"under section 115(a)(2) of the Copyright Act, musicians are allowed to perform and record covers of songs as long as they pay a "compulsory license" fee to the songwriter through the Harry Fox Agency - royalties Coulton says he's paid. But 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, after all.

So Coulton's version of "Baby Got Back" isn't his to offer up for sale or licensing; Glee can use his changes without permission or even credit."

However his other claim that they used the same studio recording, is idiotic. Yes they're similar the Same No.

True Glee could say that they've used his arrangement. But they don't need to if viewers like it then they'll probably find Jonathan's original giving him exposure like they did for bands like "The Wanted".

Yes you can say the show is well a bit rubbish at times (and i like glee) however at least appreciate the fact the music they perform showcases the music. Bringing it to new audiences and mainstream culture. Look up some of their covers of 'Michael Jackson's "Thriller/Off with your head" or "smooth Criminal," 'Adele' "Rumour Has It/ Someone Like You" for example. Hell they covered 'Rebbecca Blacks' "Friday" and made it sound good and not like ear rape.

You might hate the show, but the fact is. For a lot of musicians Glee Is a great way of having their music showcased to people who may not otherwise seek it out.

What? Did I need another reason to hate that show?

David Ross:
Look I hate to spoil everyones Glee Hate..but.

Jonathan Coulton covered Baby Got back. He's bitching about permisson when really it's not his to give.

"under section 115(a)(2) of the Copyright Act, musicians are allowed to perform and record covers of songs as long as they pay a "compulsory license" fee to the songwriter through the Harry Fox Agency - royalties Coulton says he's paid. But 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, after all.

So Coulton's version of "Baby Got Back" isn't his to offer up for sale or licensing; Glee can use his changes without permission or even credit."

Here's the section of the law in question:

http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#115:
(2) A compulsory license includes the privilege of making a musical arrangement of the work to the extent necessary to conform it to the style or manner of interpretation of the performance involved, but the arrangement shall not change the basic melody or fundamental character of the work, and shall not be subject to protection as a derivative work under this title, except with the express consent of the copyright owner.

(emphasis added)

Notice that Coulton's version of the song does not meet these criteria. You'll also notice that this section concerns compulsory licenses, i.e. licenses to perform material without the consent of the original copyright holder. Coulton got a non-compulsory license to record his version of the song.

You can bet that if someone puts Glee in a torrent so people can share it for free, Fox would have a problem with that, while apparently not having any problems with stealing for their own profits.

You now suck forever, Glee. I haven't watched an episode since the pilot butchered Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' " (and as a World Champion SF Giants fan, I don't take that crap lying down), but this is just low.
Now, I hate Glee for crappy covers of old songs I like but why do the rest of you guys hate it? Nonsensical storylines? One-note characters? CLiches on top of cliches?

SeaCalMaster:
http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#115:
(2) A compulsory license includes the privilege of making a musical arrangement of the work to the extent necessary to conform it to the style or manner of interpretation of the performance involved, but the arrangement shall not change the basic melody or fundamental character of the work, and shall not be subject to protection as a derivative work under this title, except with the express consent of the copyright owner.

Really Cause I just read that and the melody is a very simple rap beat that has been slowed and is the string backing. The "Character" is the recognizable Lyrics that's what makes the song. Although the melody has been added to. Its still recognizably the original.

Fox releases their covers world wide, They would have cleared this with Sir Mix Alot who owns the arrangement. They are not going to illegally use a song they don't have permission for. Jonathan Coulton wasn't informed because he doesn't own the rights to his arrangement. Otherwise he would be pursuing legal action, he's asking to be recognized that they are using his arrangement, Which is a moral thing. FOx is perfectly legal in this situation, if they'd done wrong Fox would have commented and this would be a bigger issue in major media other than various internet geeks bitching because this is the guy who wrote still alive. They've done nothing wrong, they DON'T NEED to acknowledge him and i'll be surprised if they do.

David Ross:

SeaCalMaster:
http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#115:
(2) A compulsory license includes the privilege of making a musical arrangement of the work to the extent necessary to conform it to the style or manner of interpretation of the performance involved, but the arrangement shall not change the basic melody or fundamental character of the work, and shall not be subject to protection as a derivative work under this title, except with the express consent of the copyright owner.

Really Cause I just read that and the melody is a very simple rap beat that has been slowed and is the string backing. The "Character" is the recognizable Lyrics that's what makes the song. Although the melody has been added to. Its still recognizably the original.

I find it amazing that you admit "the melody has been added to" and you still don't see how this qualifies as changing the basic melody. In any case, a rhythm is not a melody.

The first 13 episodes of Glee were okay I guess; but beyond that if you keep seeing it it's just sad.

Rawne1980:

It's already shown it works. I now know about him and i've never heard one of his songs until today. God bless the internet for bringing me new things.

You actually probably have heard one of his songs. He wrote Still Alive and Want You Gone for Portal.

I disagree with your opinion, though I do understand the notion. I mean, who doesn't have at least one thing that is just unequivocally not for them?

Furbyz:

Rawne1980:

It's already shown it works. I now know about him and i've never heard one of his songs until today. God bless the internet for bringing me new things.

You actually probably have heard one of his songs. He wrote Still Alive and Want You Gone for Portal.

I disagree with your opinion, though I do understand the notion. I mean, who doesn't have at least one thing that is just unequivocally not for them?

I really hate it when people argue that piracy and copyright infringement are okay because they bring the original artist "more publicity". Really? When was the last time anyone paid the rent with publicity? Can you eat publicity? And what about the crux of the complaint, that someone has violated the creator's rights? Some artists don't mind piracy, yes, but only a small amount.

RobDaBank:
I for one am a big Glee fan, (22yo straight male with a child). And honestly don't see the big problem with them covering songs. They definitely put a unique twist on each song which gives a clear distinction between their songs and the original. If I were to sing a song and people enjoyed it, would I be subject to a lawsuit because that song belonged to somebody else?

if you didn't have permission to use something that didn't belong to you, than the answer is YES!

stealing somebody's song is like ignoring a patent, unless it was sold to you, you can't use it without getting sued.

SeaCalMaster:

Zachary Amaranth:
Incidentally, you cannot copyright an arrangement, so there's no real legal problem here. No issue with "not getting his permission."

The U.S. Copyright Office disagrees with you.

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ50.pdf:
The copyright law of the United States provides for copyright protection in "musical works, including any accompanying words," that are fixed in some tangible medium of expression. 17 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). Musical works include both original compositions and original arrangements or other new versions of earlier compositions to which new copyrightable authorship has been added.

(emphasis added)

And the lack of legal victories really proves how that works out in reality.

Some interesting analysis I found:
http://geeklikemetoo.blogspot.fi/2013/01/about-that-quack.html

Apparently they didn't just use Coulton's arrangement, they used his recording.
In any case, this is an interesting case. The copyright law is a mess, and if the rules are different for big corporations than individual people...

Can someone explain to me in laymens terms but still well-detailed why people hate Glee so much?

Quiet Stranger:
Can someone explain to me in laymens terms but still well-detailed why people hate Glee so much?

From what I gather, people here mostly hate it for the bad covers.

I know there are people who hate Glee for teh 'gay propaganda', but I doubt that's the main reason for the hate here.

RobDaBank:
I for one am a big Glee fan, (22yo straight male with a child). And honestly don't see the big problem with them covering songs. They definitely put a unique twist on each song which gives a clear distinction between their songs and the original. If I were to sing a song and people enjoyed it, would I be subject to a lawsuit because that song belonged to somebody else?

If you were selling that song and selling it of as your own rendition without any permission or credit to the original artist: YES. Seriously, a major corporation stealing something from a relatively little known (outside the nerd community) artist is low. Really low. I hope JoCo sues their butts off and gets the money he deserves for putting up with Fox.

Has it been broadcast yet? It's 1045 UK so just before 6 US et, I don't know what time it's normally on.

Very curious to see if they went ahead with it!

Used to like the show, have no interest in it now though. Haven't for a long time. Sounds like there are some real dicks in the team.

RobDaBank:
I for one am a big Glee fan, (22yo straight male with a child). And honestly don't see the big problem with them covering songs. They definitely put a unique twist on each song which gives a clear distinction between their songs and the original. If I were to sing a song and people enjoyed it, would I be subject to a lawsuit because that song belonged to somebody else?

But they're not putting a unique twist on this song. The entire problem is that they're doing it like Jonathan Coulton did it, and trying to make it seem like they created the arrangement themselves. And if you were to sing a song and people enjoyed it, and you knew that people would assume that the arrangement was yours unless you explained to them that it wasn't, then keeping quiet about the truth of the sing's origin would be an immoral thing to do since you're trying to make it seem like you created something you didn't create.

Queen Michael:
And if you were to sing a song and people enjoyed it, and you knew that people would assume that the arrangement was yours unless you explained to them that it wasn't, then keeping quiet about the truth of the sing's origin would be an immoral thing to do since you're trying to make it seem like you created something you didn't create.

Nailhead, meet hammer, I think you'll get along fine.

That's exactly it, granted Glee have done a lot of catchy reworkings of classic songs, sometimes to their benefit (usually interesting mashups, a concept they certainly didn't create) and sometimes to their detriment (many o' these).

But they at least had the fact that they'd created said remix, whereas this is a straight up cover of someone else's work without their permission. I don't know the full legalities of it, and if they had a deal with Sir Mentadent and that overrides JC's rights to refusal then fair enough - but I imagine he'd be aware of that, and his continued chagrin suggests that's not the case.

If I've heard correctly, Glee don't approach many people whose songs they use, and after the event, most people don't care because it boosts their sales. However, on general principle, I'd be pissed if my work boosted their sales if I didn't approve of their format or product, even if it gave me a little gold to boot.

That Johnny C bit? Christ Glee, at least try and hide it a BIT.

UPDATE: They went along and aired it. The same autotuned travesty with a bunch of cheesy dance moves thrown in. Please don't google it--giving Glee more views is counter productive. As for Johnny C, he hasn't updated his site on the glee disaster since sunday, but according to his twitter he has legal news and is going to be posting it soon.

iRevanchist:
has legal news and is going to be posting it soon.

JC's Twitter:
I am pretty angry. I have news and will write about it soon.

Doesn't specify it's legal news, but I'm looking forward to seeing what it is.

I'm going to get hate but I agree with Todd in the shadow

Glee = this gens mtv

Quiet Stranger:
Can someone explain to me in laymens terms but still well-detailed why people hate Glee so much?

The dialogue is lame and the plot is laughable?

In short...it's terribly written.

As for the topic, I find it pretty disgusting that Fox pulls this crap, with the way they treat fans who make fan videos on YouTube of their shows, and not for profit, either. They stomp these kids into the ground for making a fanvid, even to the point of getting their accounts banned on YouTube, but they have no qualms about profiting from someone else's work? Dicks.

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