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Fox's Glee steals Jonathan Coulton's cover

Portal song composer battling TV network over Baby Got Back

Jonathan Coulton, best known to gamers for composing Portal song Still Alive, is currently looking into legal action against TV network Fox for using his cover of the Sir Mix-a-Lot song Baby Got Back.

One of Coulton's fans alerted him to the fact the the all singing, all dancing TV show Glee featured a version of the song that was almost identical to a cover Coulton had recorded. Coulton contacted Fox, but they were unconcerned by the similarity.

"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)." said Coulton on his blog

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"While they appear not to be legally obligated to do any of these things, they did not apologise, offer to credit me, or offer to pay me, and indicated that this was their general policy in regards to covers of covers."

A side by side comparison of the songs are available here.

While he has no legal rights to the song, Coulton has suggested that Fox has also used an original melody he created for his version, and is looking into further action.

"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."

For now he's re-released his version of the cover on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon. On iTunes it is currently outselling the Glee version by a significant margin.

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Latest comments (3)

Omaha Sternberg Editor / Co-Founder, iGame Radio3 years ago
"While he has to legal rights to the song..."

I think that's "While he has NO legal rights to the song..."

"For now he's re-released his version of the cover on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon. On iTunes it is currently outselling the Glee version by a significant margin."

Good for him! This actually is no different than certain companies copying all the gameplay mechanics for a game while altering slightly the artwork and claiming it's a new game.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd3 years ago
@ Omaha It's really worse, because there are only a few attributes to a song. When you copy the melody, lyrics, and tempo you have pretty much copied everything. What else is there? Swapping in some new singers hardly changes the original work. Heck Fox originally even had Coulton's custom lyric in there "Johnny C's in trouble" as opposed to the original "Mix-A-Lot's in trouble."

It's the very laziest form of copyright infringement, and indicative of the type of show Glee really is. More people are coming forward now about Glee stealing their covers uncredited. http://www.forbes.com/sites/michelecatalano/2013/01/27/jonathan-coulton-vs-glee-its-about-the-ethics/
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises3 years ago
Sounds like Fox owes him some royalties and fees...
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