I am pretty angry. I have news and will write about it soon.—
Jonathan Coulton (@jonathancoulton) January 25, 2013
It’s on. Computer programmer-turned-singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton has been fuming over what appears to be a blatant “Glee” rip-off of his 2005 cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s hit tune, “Baby Got Back.” The show aired the arrangement tonight.
Last week, after first getting wind of the cover, Coulton tweeted:
Fans backed him up:
That’s a reference to a tell-tale lyric in Coulton’s version. Wired reports:
“I assume [Glee] heard [my cover] and wanted to put it in their show. Which is flattering, but also an email would have been nice — just a hi, howya doin’ kind of thing,” Coulton told Wired by e-mail.
Coulton notes that the YouTube video was not an official Fox release of the song, but the track is currently for sale on the Swedish version of iTunes, as reported by Kotaku, where it appears to be offered from the official “Glee Cast” account. The song is reportedly slated for the Jan. 24 episode “Sadie Hawkins.” Wired reached out to a Fox representative, who said that they had no comment on the matter.
Coulton immediately posted the video on Twitter side-by-side with a link to his version of the 1992 hit single, and the resemblance was beyond uncanny, even simulating quirks like Coulton’s name drop of “Johnny C.” It was so close, in fact, that Coulton speculated that the same audio might have been used, and recruited his followers to help him analyze the track.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison:
Music fans confronted Alex Anders, music producer for the popular TV show, on Twitter after Coulton’s complaints:
Anders responded (and later deleted this tweet that was retweeted by many users):
Coulton responded as well:
And more music fans/Glee viewers weighed in:
After Anders deleted his “opportunity” tweet, he posted this:
The #TeamCoulton movement is building as the public (and possibly legal) showdown heats up:
We’ll update with any further response from Anders or details from Coulton.
Until then, tuck away this takeaway lesson: Coulton has earned at least $500,000 from music download revenue, merchandise, and performances. Intellectual property rights do matter, even among left-leaning creative types and Internet geeks. Every creator deserves the fruits of his labor and deserves recourse when those fruits are shamelessly stolen without credit/attribution/linkage — from the Fox network or anyone else.