This week’s Glee “Sadie Hawkins” episode became mired in controversy, when performer and internet geek, Jonathan Coulton, accused Glee of stealing his arrangement of the Sir Mix Alot tune, “Baby Got Back”
Well, the thing is…yeah. they did. And considering the folks at Glee are in the business of covering other artists’ music, they knew exactly where they stood legally on the issue. It’s not the first time the show has “borrowed” an arrangement. In season 3, Cory Monteith sang a slowed up version of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” that was similar to an arrangement by Greg Laswell.
Check out Coulton’s original arrangement vs. Glee’s
So when Glee peeps finally responded back to Coulton, the message was “get over it.”
MORE MORE UPDATE 1/25: 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.
Anyhoo. This story has somewhat of a silver lining. Coulton may feel ripped off, but he hasn’t lost his sense of humor. He’s releasing a cover of the Glee cover of his cover (Hee) to iTunes. All proceeds will go to VH1 Save the Music Foundation and the It Gets Better Project.
I’ve released this track as a single – it should be on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play eventually if it’s not already. It’s a cover of Glee’s cover of my cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s song, which is to say it’s EXACTLY THE SAME as my original version. I’m releasing this under the same Harry Fox license I used for the 2005 release, so Mix will get all the royalties due to him. I’ll donate the proceeds from all sales that happen between now and the end of February to two charities: The VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and The It Gets Better Project. (fine print: iTunes will get their cut first of course, then I’ll deduct enough to cover my licensing fees, and split the rest between the two. iTunes sometimes takes a long time to report sales, sometimes even a couple of months, so I won’t be able to do the math and make the donation until I have the numbers. But I’ll let you know when I’ve gotten the amount and made the donation.)
All Coulton wants at this point is public acknowledgement by the Glee people that they did, in fact, use his arrangement. Also, he thinks it would be a fab gesture if Glee donated the proceeds of their “Baby Got Back” cover to the same charities. But he’s not holding his breath.