Friday, January 25, 2013
Glee shamelessly stole “Baby Got Back” cover
Listen to the original below.
“Baby Got Back” - Jonathan Coulton
I admittedly am not a fan of Glee on FOX. But if I was, last night’s episode would have been the last one I ever watch, seeing as how they went through with ripping off another artist and stealing his cover of a popular song.
Glee does covers of songs. That’s no shock. The idea that they licensed Sir Mix-a-Lot’s "Baby Got Back" for their Sadie Hawkins episode of the show raises no red flags whatsoever. However, rather than create their own creative take on the popular song, they instead shamelessly ripped off popular Internet musician Jonathan Coulton’s arrangement — without notifying him, compensating him, or even acknowledging that it’s his in any way.
Wanna compare the two? Coulton’s arrangement is up top. Here’s the Glee version:
Baby Got Back (Glee Cast Version)
If you want to hear them side by side, people have prepared that experiment for you.
The version of the song that aired last night was slightly abridged (you can see that clip here), and removed among other things the line that name dropped “Johnny C.” So, you know, FOX removed the only tiny thing that could have been seen as a nod to Coulton’s cover.
Coulton may not be as popular as Glee (by a long stretch), but he certainly has some devoted fans. If you’re a gamer, you’ll probably recognize him as the composer for the theme songs to the two Portal games, including the meme-inducing Still Alive. Others may recognize him for geeky tunes like Code Monkey. He and his thousands of fans are understandably a little ticked off.
What really gets to me, though, is Fox’s response to Coulton, as he wrote about on his blog today:
They also got in touch with my peeps to basically say that they’re within their legal rights to do this, and that I should be happy for the exposure (even though they do not credit me, and have not even publicly acknowledged that it’s my version – so you know, it’s kind of SECRET exposure). While they appear not to be legally obligated to do any of these things, they did not apologize, offer to credit me, or offer to pay me, and indicated that this was their general policy in regards to covers of covers. It does not appear that I have a copyright claim, but I’m still investigating the possibility (which I consider likely) that they used some or all of my audio.
Seriously, Fox? He should be happy for the exposure? How is that possible, when the vast majority of people who watch your show will never know he did it, seeing as how you didn’t credit him in any way? When you buy the single on iTunes, it does not attribute the song to him — meaning you’re profiting off of his work.
Heck, iTunes Music on Twitter advertised the single earlier today, saying, "It's Sadie Hawkins Day and you won't believe how Glee flips 'Baby Got Back.' Yee-ha!"
You’re right, iTunes. I don’t believe it.
I don’t really doubt that what they’ve done here is legal — I’m sure they have a team of highly trained and very expensive lawyers that are all over that. But they can’t argue that what they didn’t isn’t completely gross and unethical. I know that other, lesser known Internet artists have made similar claims of their work being stolen by Glee. I can only imagine how deep this scheme goes.