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Jonathan Coulton Explains How GLEE Ripped Off His Cover Song - And Why He's Not Alone

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JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
Katie Perry recorded Teen Age Dream. She didn't write, it but it surely got popular because of HER recording. Glee covered it- same arrangement, just a different vocalist. Does she deserve "credit"?
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
Katy Perry is listed in the credits for The Warbler album, according to AllMusic.com, as composer. She appears to have composer rights to the song, despite being one of five listed composers (it took five people to write it?). So she'll get credit and all the perks that go with it no matter who performs it or how they perform it, apparently.

But you're deliberately being dismissive of this. Coulton didn't just sing the song again- he put work into it and revised it.

Cover versions of songs don't have copyright protection in the US, regardless of what the artist does with them. If it can be shown that an artist's cover of the song is sufficiently different from the creator's copyrighted version, it should likewise be able to be protected.

Fox has found a nifty loophole- they can now take arrangements that cannot be copyrighted, and only pay whomever holds the song's rights. Which is, in my opinion, just legal thievery.
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Wynbish
Broadway Legend
joined:4/27/12
Does anyone know if they credited John Legend for doing his version of Rolling in the Deep?
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
It would appear not, according to AllMusic. But take that for what it's worth- it doesn't list Adele or Paul Epsworth, the credited composers, either.
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bjh2114
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
"Call this guy a whambulance."

Oh my God, Joe. I've been using that line all week!

Is it because it was on Modern Family last week?
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ClumsyDude15
Broadway Legend
joined:12/11/06
Shouldn't the fact that the performance of the song being done was terrible make him feel a little better? I mean, yes - it does suck that they've done this to him (and many others like him), but as many have pointed out they've gotten good at loop-holing the whole situation. I remember when the gentlemen had his version of "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" used during season three, and I remembered it because it was also featured in Confessions of A Shopaholic, and I felt for the guy, but FOX and Glee has gotten very good at playing this game, and they've seemed to found themselves victorious despite the backlash they'll feel from what they did to this guy with Baby Got Back. ..All this over a round thing in your face? Sprung, indeed.

On the flip side of this, Glee used the version of "Smooth Criminal" done by 2Cellos and had them play it while Naya Rivera and Grant Gustin sang it on the show. So, yes - they've screwed many an artist, but they did give 2Cellos the credit and exposure they deserved for their version of the Michael Jackson classic.





Updated On: 1/28/13 at 03:28 AM
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adam.peterson44
Broadway Star
joined:9/7/11
This is a bit of a thread hijack, but the Glee performance reminded me of my all-time favorite version of baby got back, which is the Gilbert and Sullivan-style version (there is a video of it on that video website). Brilliance!
Dave19
Broadway Star
joined:12/23/11
The guy covered a song in the first place, so he doesn't have any rights to complain. Sure, it's frustrating if someone uses your new arrangement of the cover song, but unless you copyright the arrangement with the courts, you have nothing.

I guess a lot of artists nowadays just lack originality, and they consider "new touches" on existing songs as something really special and groundbreaking. Well, it's not.

The only thing he can do is put a text over his video saying "I was the first one that covered this song with this arrangement", to avoid thousands of comments like "Hey, you covered the Glee song!"



Updated On: 1/28/13 at 06:53 AM
jaqs Profile Photo
jaqs
Broadway Star
joined:1/24/08
I felt far more upset for the guy who had his choreography ripped off.
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trentsketch
Broadway Legend
joined:6/25/09
"Sure, it's frustrating if someone uses your new arrangement of the cover song, but unless you copyright the arrangement with the courts, you have nothing.

Read more: http://broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.php?thread=1055883&page=2#ixzz2JHYGQWDC"

Not true. If the arrangement is novel enough, he has a copyright from creation. That's especially true here since he wrote an actual melody to a spoken word rap song.

The reason he will struggle if he attempts legal action is that he did not register the copyright. Registration doesn't make your creation more or less valid, it just makes it easier within the US legal system to prove there has been an infringement. The actual registered copyright is kind of a legal stamp that the court has to acknowledge is the legal date of creation. Without the registered copyright, Coulton has to prove that he created the arrangement, when he created it, and that Glee stole his arrangement. A registered copyright would shift the entire battle to trying to prove Glee stole the arrangement.

And for what it's worth, the article linked at the start of the thread includes how people have matched up the special effects used on Glee with the same exact special effects on Coulton's recording. It looks like they ripped his vocal off the recording and had their performers record over his actual arrangement. That's the big problem here. Unless there is legal precedent for not having to license an actual recording for another recording because of IPR loopholes, the argument of "Oh well, he can't complain because it's just a cover" doesn't actually apply.
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darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
I BELIEVE it is common practice for Glee to use a studio band to record a "soundalike" track, not use original artist tracks.
JoeKv99 Profile Photo
JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
"Baby Got back" is not spoken word and rap songs have melodies.

I am appalled that Katy Perry got a songwriter credit for "teenage dream." If you want to whip up outrage over that I'm with you.
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
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jonathan_r
Swing
joined:1/30/13
Thank you!

Even in posts sympathetic to him, this has been missing. The "song" wasn't sung before. It was rapped. The melody is Jonathan Coulton's, not Sir Mix-A-Lot's. That is not a cover.

And thank you for hitting the other important point, that they utterly ripped the recording verbatim. If it is, in fact, not sampled, then someone, somewhere, played that guitar part with the intent of sounding just like Jonathan Coulton. It's plausible, but would, indeed, be intentional.

That's a very important point, that's, apparently, easily missed. This isn't about it's being a cover song at all. And, if, as glibly stated above, Jonathan Coulton only had two fans, one of them is a Fox shill with a long reach.
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Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
I guess a lot of artists nowadays just lack originality, and they consider "new touches" on existing songs as something really special and groundbreaking. Well, it's not.

Oh, sometimes it really is. There are covers that reinterpret the original material to the point that it provides a different perspective. And that is an art that requires talent.

I heard the new lounge cover of "Beat It" recently (Cris Delanno, I think?) and while I found it odd, I also realized how the new mood of the song seemed to alter the lyrics with a different intent. I thought it was fascinating.

But there's nothing "nowadays" about it. Covers are as old as popular music has been around. I mean, The Platters certainly didn't write "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and it didn't sound like their interpretation onstage in Roberta in 1933.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
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winston89
Broadway Legend
joined:6/18/06
trentsketch

You were partially correct about something. You were right to say that Coulton's song is copyrighted just from being recorded. However, the part where you're incorrect is that he has to register it with the courts. If he were to take legal action against fox, there is a good chance, that because his song is copyrighted, that he would win if he were to sue fox for copyright infringement. This is of course regardless if he registered anything with the courts or not.
"If you try to shag my husband while I am still alive, I will shove the art of motorcycle maintenance up your rancid little Cu**. That's a good dear" Tom Stoppard's Rock N Roll

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