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What's with the name?

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No. No no no no no no no. no.

Glee Says Coulton Should Be Happy for the Exposure They’re Giving Him by Not Mentioning Him At All

Well, they aired it, seemingly unchanged. And it’s now for sale in the US iTunes store. 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. I’ll write something longer and more detailed about this when I can get my head together about it probably in a couple of days. Thanks for your support, but please continue not to burn anything down.Jonathan Coulton, in a recent update to his blog.

Last night Glee returned after a holiday hiatus with the episode “Sadie Hawkins” and a soft-rock version of “Baby Got Back,” that is unmistakably nerd-rocker Jonathan Coulton’s soft-rock version of “Baby Got Back.” The musician updated fans and readers of his blog this morning with this information on Fox and Glee’s really absurd notion that “exposure” is his payment despite the fact that they have so far refused to publicly credit him with the arrangement. If Coulton hadn’t already had a strong, connected fanbase, nobody might have noticed that he’d been ripped off.

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  • Not So Young Democrat

    I’m curious as to why they think they can legally do this. He would certainly seem to own a copyright to that arrangement and this wouldn’t seem to be fair use as parody.

  • Captain ZADL

    When Lawyers play dirty pool no one wins but the lawyers.

  • Anonymous

    Do they not realize Coulton isn’t just a nobody internet star? Now they just seem like moron bullies.

  • Anonymous

    So… ‘Probably the Worst Show on Television’ is now known as ‘Definitely the Worst Show on Television’.

    Well, good to know.

  • John Wao

    Is Glee the show where the showrunner flies off the handle and goes on twitter to call them homophobic whenever an artist refuses to grant him permission to use their songs for his show?

  • mea.glitch

    Did the aired version leave his line about “John C” in it? I know it’s in the iTunes version (is that the “exposure” they were referring to?).

    “We’re doing you a favor”… yeah right.

  • Janel Smith-McClain

    Watching Glee last night I was so pissed to see they ripped Coulton off but was holding out hope that he was compensated in some way. I am very dissapointed to hear that he has not been.

  • Stehpy

    Way to really suck Glee/Fox. I held out for a long time. I enjoyed Glee, I really did. It was just brain candy for when I didn’t want to think, like a daytime soap with singing. I tried to be lenient and think “Well maybe the writing/characters will get better soon” “Maybe there was a miscommunication at Fox”. I watched last night and I was just flabbergasted they did this. Coupled with not only the fact that it is now WORSE (and has been even though I was hoping they would get it back together again) than a daytime soap in it’s plot, characters, everything…the response to this by the executives it’s appalling. There is a difference between covering a song out of love and respect for the artist and blatantly stealing.

    Stay classy, Glee/Fox. I’m out.

  • Hannele Kormano

    Did they ever credit Nouvelle Vague for their version of Dancing With Myself? Compare:

  • Anonymous

    “Congratulations; you just drew aggro from a significant portion of the Internet.”

  • Doc

    Using the most horrible analogy possible and I DEARLY apologize if this triggers anyone, but isn’t this like the person who rapes someone and then tells them afterwards they should be thankful for the sex and the attention?

  • electrasteph

    Yes, indeed it is. Never mind that stuff they write, particularly about the lesbian characters on the show, can be incredibly homophobic. But that’s okay, according to them, because gay men are allowed to say awful things about gay women.

  • electrasteph

    Neither of those. Also Greg Laswell about his arrangement of the “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” cover.

  • Alana Beltzer

    From a significant portion of the Internet that probably already wanted your heads for what you did to Firefly. (just sayin’)

  • Chaka ♥

    That’s what I’m thinking. They just sound like bullies and clearly have no idea how big a following Coulton has.

  • Anonymous

    I used to be a Glee Superfan, but that was back in Season 1 when it didn’t suck. I haven’t watched since the Grease episode (Santana playing Rizzo was the ONLY part worth my time) and it’s good to know I’m not missing much.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Holy. Balls.

    “I stole your art because it’s good. You should be FLATTERED!” is what a twelve-year old on deviantArt or Tumblr says, NOT something that should be an official response from actual professionals.

    I’m kinda hoping that more artists start refusing them the rights to their songs after this. But ugh, you know they’re just gonna rip off that good acoustic of “Sexy and I Know It” and other creative covers if that happens.

    (Hey, anyone remember what happened when Weird Al made “Amish Paradise” without Coolio’s personal permission, and Coolio was upset, and Al apologized and felt very bad, and went out of his way to make sure that the artists themselves were okay with the covers from then on?)

  • Laura Truxillo

    Yeah, I don’t understand why the actual MUSIC, which he clearly wrote himself, isn’t his, legally.

  • Anonymous

    Side Note:
    “How do you do it, Homer. How do you silence that voice in your head that keeps telling you to do the right thing?”
    “…You mean Lisa?”

  • Danny Adams

    So then if I download Glee covers of songs and give them away to all my friends, that’s OK, because it gives Glee more exposure?

  • Amanda

    Because JoCo didn’t pay Sir Mix-a-lot for the rights to create the cover he doesn’t possess copyright and Fox IS within their legal right to steal his idea and arrangement. Doesn’t mean it’s okay, as it’s morally reprehensible, but it’s legal. If they actually used his audio, that may change things, and I really hope it does, but yeah, right now he’s legally screwed. At least general internet outrage is on his side. Not that anyone can possibly be surprised by the fact that Glee is totally morally and creatively bankrupt. What a gross show.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    Yeah, that’s what I don’t get either. If you take just the music away, it has nothing to do with Baby Got Back, it’s an original tune.

  • Anonymous

    FWIW, JoCo did pay for the right to cover “Baby Got Back.” He talks about it in the article I wrote last week, which is linked in this post.

  • Emma

    He did pay Sir Mix-a-Lot for the rights, according to the second paragraph of the blog post linked.

  • UnderTheDark

    Wow, this is “Honestly Monica” all over again! You’d think someone in the Glee camp would be media-savvy enough to realize what a colossal mistake they’ve made :/

  • Anonymous

    They think they can do it because they have shitloads of lawyers who can send official-looking letters and hopefully intimidate this quaint folk musician into dropping it. Do they think they’d win in court? No idea. Frankly, it’s a corporate lawyer’s job to make sure things like this never get into court. If he lawyers up, they’re more likely to throw him a few thousand bucks. Right now this is an internet tizzy; if it becomes a lawsuit, then major media outlets pick it up and it damages the brand.

    I do think he has a chance in court. His arrangement is transformative. Can he assert copyright over it? I think a judge should mull that over.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a highly transformative cover — transformative enough that a court might consider it a stand-alone work that can be owned apart from the original. I don’t think there’s a case exactly like this on the books, so we can’t say for certain that it was legal or illegal. JoCo would not be wasting his time/money by taking this to court. If nothing else, seriously lawyering up will probably prompt them to settle.

  • mea.glitch

    Here’s the doubleplayer I found with both versions. You have to synch them manually since the difference is less than a second, but once you do, it’s a perfect match.

  • Anonymous

    “If Coulton hadn’t already had a strong, connected fanbase, nobody might have noticed that he’d been ripped off.”

    as evidenced by the fact that they’ve apparently done this three times before.

  • Anonymous

    They shortened the song even further for TV, and one of the verses they cut out did contain the “Jonny C” line.

  • Anonymous

    Yes. That happened to Kings of Leon when they didn’t want Glee using their music. Glee’s such a fucking scam.

  • Tom Galloway

    Actually, Weird Al has always (or at least from early on; I sorta doubt he was able to contact the artists when first starting out) asked permission on his parodies, although he’s also made it clear this is a personal decision on his part and not something he’s legally required to do. He thought he did have Coolio’s permission due to a communications mixup, and has said he felt bad about it, at least until they met up and got it straightened out.

  • Reesa Graham
  • Reesa Graham
  • Anonymous

    i think perhaps in this instance @packetdancer:disqus was referring to “Glee” not “Fox” after all it’s Glee that does the music stuff not their network more than likely. ‘sides Ryan Murphy has been known to be a bit dickish when it comes to music (remember the Kings of Leon incident)

  • Anonymous

    or use this nifty mix someone made

  • Anonymous

    based on what i can see the fact that it IS a cover is what’s primarily the issue here. They can claim they’re doing a cover of a cover and that’s a whole different realm of copyright. Since Coulton doesn’t own the rights to the song merely his cover as long as Glee can claim they recreated it (hence the importance of proving the ‘duck’ noise) it gives them quite a bit of legal wiggleroom. If we’ve learned nothing from Vanilla Ice it’s that it’s not quite as easy as you’d hope to prove that your song and some other song are the same.

  • Anonymous

    oh snap .. remember Season 1.. good times. Back when storylines and motivations made sense.

  • Nathan Snow

    Glee(‘s music production crew) are the ones that do the music stuff. Fox(‘s employees) are the ones that do the “shut up and enjoy your exposure” stuff.

  • Drew Morrison

    The people in charge of Glee don’t care about their reputation any longer or having any quality to the show. It is misogynistic, racist, homophobic and transgender-phobic pretty much consistently each episode. They blatantly attacked part of their quickly dwindling fan base. They steal musical arrangements and choreography given no credit to the person who actually put in the creative effort.They aren’t selling songs because they try to do the “popular” songs of the moment instead of actually universally good music with their talented singers. Ryan Murphy is a child. It’s not surprising at all that this is how he responds. He attacks his cast, that he supposedly loves in scripts Dianna Agron (killed Quinn in a fantasy scene on Glee and attacked her as an actress on The New Normal in the psuedo-Glee “Sing” that the character that basically is representative of him runs) and Amber Riley(racist comments four times in the maybe 3 minutes she’s been on screen this season not counting the two songs she was a part of). All that to say, if he can’t treat people he knows personally with a level of professionalism or just basic respect then he is definitely not going act professional when someone questions him and his god complex.

    I hope Coulton can get the credit that he is most definitely due. I don’t see how legally if he paid Sir-Mix-A-Lot that somehow they don’t have to credit him legally. I think if he is unable to do anything legally to them his best route may be to group together with other artist that glee has stolen creative credit from and just shame the hell out of them.

  • Anonymous

    Everyone should go out an buy Thing a Week One (or some other album if you have that one) to show JoCo some support.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Meant that. That’s why I said afterwards he went out of his way to make sure the artists themselves okay’d it, and not just their people talking to his people.

    And my point was that it ISN’T a legal requirement of him, he’s just a decent enough human being to respect what another person created.

  • Anatasia Beaverhousen

    Remember way back in the first few episodes of Glee when they did original stuff like an updated version of “Run, johnny, run”, exposing it to the populous and did interesting mash-up’s of songs? Why did they stop doing that and start ripping off other people?

  • Kate A

    It’s in the long version they sell on iTunes.

  • Anonymous

    Funny, I just opened Hulu and as it’s scrolling through the featured recent episodes, the screen reads, ‘Female empowerment rules the school as the Glee club revamps and Jonathan Coulton-izes “Baby Got Back”‘

    So either that’s what they meant by “exposure” or the Hulu blurb writer is a fan.

  • Nick Gaston

    All right, you heard the man…one grenade each!

    Oh…he said continue to NOT burn anything down?


    One grenade each!

  • Anonymous

    Once he began recording his songs for commercial use, Al always got personal permission from the people he parodied, something he still does to this day. This was over and above getting the rights to record the song; he always made sure the performer didn’t mind being skewered. VERY few people have refused, Prince being one of the most notable among them. Paul McCartney, a vegan, refused the release of a song called “Chicken Pot Pie” (To “Live and Let Die”) as it went again his vegan standing, so Al simply used it in his concerts. Al went vegan some years later, BTW.

    Billy Joel refused for a song called “It’s still Billy Joel to Me”, so while Al never included it on an album, he gave a copy to Dr. Demento, and it still gets fairly heavy airplay. Similarly, his parody of James Blunt’s “You’re beautiful” got the okay from the performer, but NOT the label, so Al again released it online for free. The Lady Gaga song was born, um…started that way, but after the Internet got up on its hind legs, she quickly explained that she had never gotten to hear the song, and of COURSE Al could release it.

  • Emi Briet

    And even then, Weird Al got the artist’s okay for “You’re Pitiful” just to be nixed by the LABEL! The reverse of the Coolio situation.

  • Anonymous

    I await patiently the results of that experiment.
    I promise to bake you a cake they can slide through the bars to you.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never watched this show, but I would like to thank Fox for giving me a legitimate reason for not watching it.

    As cynical as it sounds, Fox has a smarter mindset than most other networks. They believe that this will make the Internet Mad As Hell for about a week, and then it will be distracted by something shiny, and it will be as quickly forgotten as Numa-Numa guy.
    And that’s rather a likely scenario.
    The only possible way this will not go away is if a manistream media outlet decides to look into it, especially since now it’s been made more clear that they’ve done this more than a few times.
    But in all honesty, the vast majority of the viewers don’t know about the controversy, and few of them will understand it if explained to them.
    Which won’t happen, as most of them likely get their news from Fox as well.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    I was open-mouthed at “Run, Johnny, Run”. Did not expect to hear that on Glee. I stopped watching part way through season 2. It lost its heart.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure the blurb was written by Hulu.

  • Zupie

    Frankly, this makes me wonder just how many YouTube indie covers Glee has stolen. If they dove into that, a class action suit could easily be pending.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, obviously. I didn’t question that?

  • Anonymous

    I’m silly and misread your words.

  • Reesa Graham

    I’m pretty disgusted by the fact it’s not the first time they’ve done it. The least they could do is credit in writing where the arrangements are coming from. I started this to help. Care to sign and pass on?

  • Anonymous

    “…indicated that this was their general policy in regards to covers of covers…”

    This is true. Glee never does its own arrangements of songs – it’s always based on somebody else’s version. Sometimes the version Glee bases its on is a well-known one that everyone recognizes, sometimes it’s less well-known, but you can be assured that if Glee does a song that sounds different from the original, there is another version out there that the Glee version is based on. As someone who still watches Glee, it embarrasses me that they do this without giving the proper credit for it, but I would think that if they were in any legal danger they wouldn’t do it.

    The only thing that bothers me about this current controversy is that a lot of people seem to be under the impression that this is an isolated incident. Its not, Glee does this all the time, its just that people don’t usually raise as much stink about it as Jonathan Coulton has. (The last time I remember someone complaining about Glee using their arrangement without permission or credit was when they did Greg Laswell’s arrangement of ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ and he got on twitter to complain about it. I don’t remember even that getting this much attention though).

  • Anonymous

    Just to be pedantic, not exactly. Ryan Murphy (Glee’s showrunner) didn’t have a twitter account when that happened.

  • Anonymous

    Actually nothing has changed, for better or worse, people just like to glorify the first season. For instance, as Kanelle Kormano wrote above, Season 1 featured Nouvelle Vague’s version of ‘Dancing With Myself’. As I wrote elsewhere in these comments, you can be assured that if you don’t recognize the arrangement of a song that Glee has used, it’s not because it’s an original Glee arrangement, it’s just that its based on a version that you’ve never heard before. The only original things Glee does in its arrangements are the vocal arrangements (eg, the original version may have been a solo while the Glee version is a quartet), and the mash-ups (which they still do).

  • Inky

    I actually dropped the show in the first season (maybe 5 episodes in or so?) because I already felt like the show had some really icky stuff in it. I feel pretty justified now.

  • I

    Someone did a mashup of Glee’s version and Coulton’s:

  • ales xith

    Who cares if its on a tv show? Get over it