Jonathan Coulton’s Cover of a Cover Gets Covered

We all know and love the Sir Mix-A-Lot song “Baby Got Back’ after quitting his job as a software writer in 2005, Jonathan Coulton began to write music. In a recent television show “leak” for FOX Networks show,  Glee, Coulton’s cover appeared on a fan page site for the show to promote the new episode that would premiere this past week. To Coulton’s surprise however, the song indeed did appear on the episode, as he says “seemingly, unchanged.” With the ability to simply get your hands on a recording created in 2005 it seems as though FOX dug into the largest archive of material (also known as the web) and believed that Coulton perhaps would never know that his hit would be passed on the air as someone else’s work. Musicians already face struggles with making a living for themselves as pirate websites make it easy for people to access any sort of file. However, now this questions the shows creative integrity.

What is important to understand is that by right of the Copyright Law, this is considered legal. Coulton’s cover was copyrighted the second he made it digitally available to users on Youtube as well as by watermarking his work by placing “Johnny C” in the title.  Another aspect of this odd case is that the audio track that was used in Glee is the same as the audio file Coulton posted on Youtube back in 2005. If FOX did indeed used the audio of his track, then this raises issues with disobeying the Copyright Law. Although Coulton is safe, the creators and writers of Glee could potentially face issues with using the same audio file as his original. It is shocking to see the lack of support and also “lack of self-respect” as said in the report that FOX as towards musicians. Although one producer reports Coulton will get “public notice;” and could be beneficial to Coulton’s exposure it will most likely get swept under the rug if it does reach legal issues.

FOX still has not issued any comments to the situation; in light of the odd situation that Coulton has found himself in he has re-released the song on iTunes titled “Baby Got Back in the style of Glee” which is the original recording he ever made. All money donated will go to the “It Gets Better” foundation and “VH1 Save the Music Foundation.”  Musicians similar to Coulton may face issues like this on a daily basis that is unnoticed. This issue can help shed a new light on musicians who can now fall victim to having their tunes played without appropriate recognition or given credit.

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