Jonathan Coulton has become well known over the past several years within the “geek” and “nerd” communities.
Known for viral hits like “RE: Your Brains,” a song about an e-mail from a zombified employee to his co-worker, and “Still Alive” and “Want You Gone,” the two end themes to the Portal games, Coulton has established himself as a fun musician and songwriter.
He has also crafted a few genre twisting covers, including one for the popular rap song “Baby Got Back”. That is where FOX and Glee come in.
Glee has become popular through its own use of cover songs, creating a worldwide phenomenon.
Whether you like the show or not, there is no doubt that it is extremely popular.
With a new season starting soon, FOX has begun promoting the upcoming episodes by releasing the season’s songs online.
One song is a cover of Sir Mixalot’s “Baby Got Back.” Fans of Jonathan Coulton immediately noticed similarities.
When Coulton covered the song, he did not just sing it himself, but instead made it sound more like a love ballad.
The subject matter and style of music clash hilariously, making it an enjoyable piece.
The version peddled by Glee is not only the same style, but features the same instrumentation, vocals, etc.
Worst of all, Coulton actually altered part of the lyrics to mention himself (as “Johnny C”) and the Glee version keeps the same altered lyrics.
Coulton has publicly said that he feels slighted, not monetarily, but that FOX never contacted him about using the material that he created.
Coulton has retaliated, not legally, but by releasing a “cover” of Glee’s cover, which is just his original cover, but all of the proceeds go to charity.
If you have ever uploaded a video containing some sort of copyrighted content to YouTube, you are probably familiar with how major media corporations feel about such works.
Despite being protected under Fair Use (provided it is used for parody or educational purposes), most large corporations see it as infringing on their rights to make a profit, as ludicrous as it may seem.
But if FOX feels that it can step on the rights of artists in the same way they claim other people step on theirs, it can only be described as hypocritical.
FOX seems to know they are in the wrong, taking the song off of most iTunes stores, but they have yet to make any type of official statement.
This may not seem like a huge deal, but for the students of Mercer, it should be.
Jonathan Coulton has a large following which is why this became a big deal online.
If a large corporation like FOX has no issue essentially stealing the work of an independent artist with such a following, what is to stop them from ripping off a song, story, or other work from a student and making a profit that they will never see?
Mercer is full of creative students who are passionate about their work.
We just need to be sure that we are willing to fight tooth and nail for our work.